Why multi-tasking is for losers

Until I started focusing on how much our team was working on at any one time (i.e. Work In Progress or “WIP”), as a result of us using Kanban, I didn’t realise just how much of our world is affected by poor flow and how Kanban could help us in so many ways. In software development it’s been well evidenced that working on a smaller number of requirements is more efficient than working on many things at once, but how it affects us everyday was eye-opening.

From driving through a town to sell-by dates on food from your local corner shop, our experience is greatly influenced by how well flow is managed. From downloading stuff on the web to attempting to multi-task, the effect of how much we try to do at once has a huge impact on our daily lives. From getting a coffee at Starbucks to dealing with most Government departments, we are reminded that the rate at which people come out the end of a process is dictated by the slowest stage in the process.

Once you start down the path of looking to reduce sticking points in your processes, you’ll never see the world in the same way: every unnecessary hold-up you encounter will be an even greater source of frustration and you’ll always be questioning if service could be improved. You’ll also find that nearly everything would improve if WIP was reduced. Multi-tasking isn’t our Nirvana; we should be focusing on finishing one task at a time (and doing it well) … then move on to the next task.

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