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Clifford Hass, pioneering Multitasking Researcher Has Died!

Clifford Hass, pioneering Multitasking Researcher Has Died!

14.December.2013, 23:51

Friday, November 08, 2013

Pioneering Multitasking Researcher Has Died

http://scrum.jeffsutherland.com/2013/11/pioneering-multitasking-researcher-has.html

One of the things we emphasize in Scrum is the toll that multi-tasking can take on productivity. Study after study shows switching from one project to another in quick succession can seriously hurt your velocity. In many companies teams are often assigned more than one project at a time. This  forces them to switch between projects rather than focusing on just one, moving it to done and then starting the next. 



Clifford Hass, who died at a far too young age of 55 last week, was a Stanford professor whose research showed just how counter-productive multitasking is.
From the NYT Obit:

 

One of his most publicized research projects was a 2009 study on multitasking. He and his colleagues presumed that people who frequently juggle computer, phone or television screens, or just different applications, would display some special skill at ignoring irrelevant information, or efficiently switching between tasks, or that they would prove to have a particularly orderly memory. 

“We all bet high multitaskers were going to be stars at something,” he said in an interview with the PBS program “Frontline” after the paper he and his colleagues wrote, “Cognitive Control in Media Multitaskers,” was published in 2009. 

“We were absolutely shocked,” he said. “We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another.” 

He added, “One would think that if people were bad at multitasking, they would stop. However, when we talk with the multitaskers, they seem to think they’re great at it and seem totally unfazed and totally able to do more and more and more.”

Professor Hass' research into how people actually do things, rather than how they say do things, was a great contribution in helping us understand ourselves and the way we work.  

-- JJ Sutherland

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