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Where is all this multitasking getting us?

multitasking is hurting your new product development processesChief Executive Magazine recently took leaders to task in an article that hits one of the problems of multitasking on the head. What message does multitasking send to those around us?

Multitasking, whether as an organization or individually kills focus and reduces productivity and innovation and among other areas the development of new products. The real underlying issue is that we delude ourselves into thinking that activity is what’s important when it’s results that really count. That and showing those around us that we’re interested in what they have to say at least as much as catching up on emails!

In Simplifying Innovation, I refer to the electronic distractions as DADS or Device Deficit Attention Syndrome. That’s when people don’t think there’s anything wrong with stopping in mid-conversation to pick up their mobile phone to see who was calling or texting them. The implicit message being that if it was someone more important, they might take the call. Even worse, during meetings they constantly check email on their laptops or phones, and even pause to send replies–the false economy of multitasking, like heroin to an activity junkie.

One simple solution is a box where these devices are surrendered and kept during meetings. I know, it might seem too much like a teacher taking away toys, but it achieves two important things:

  1. It eliminates the distraction.
  2. It makes the meeting leader aware that the meeting is taking people away from something else they’d just as soon be doing so they must work to keep the meeting focused, relevant, and productive.

Here’s another article on multitasking that you might find interesting