Multi-tasking seems to be the topic of the week: Clark says it makes you stupid; Johanna has developed a new workshop simulation to demonstrate the problems it can cause; and Tony Rizzo has written about it here, here and here in the last couple of weeks alone! (I haven’t seen any case studies per se, but there’s more theory and anecdote in the links above than you can shake a stick at…)
In Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck lists task switching as one of her seven types of muda. But in the workshops that Andy & I ran recently, our participants preferred to stick with the original Toyota muda types, and to list task switching under the muda of motion. What’s important is not the taxonomy, so much as the recognition that task switching is bad.
Unfortunately I’m currently lending my services to an organisation in which task switching is institutionalised. Absolutely everyone is expected to be working on several things at once, and I’m viewed as a dangerous heretic (and probably pathologically lazy) by insisting on having only one job at any given time. I wonder when anyone will notice that I’ve delivered everything on time…?