Skip to main content

Exercise:: The mythical benefits of Multi-Tasking

Many people are great multitaskers... why isn't everyone?  Well it may come down to the perceptions of the actor - not the observer.  I've been asked for exercises that will demonstrate this benefit perception dissonance.

Quick Overview

Time three people perform simple tasks (sequential): recite the alphabet, count to 100 by 3s, name the colors of the rainbow in order 3 times.  (one sequencing task at a time - measure the cumulative time of all 3 tasks)

Now introduce a Switcher (4th volunteer) when they call out "SWITCH" the people change task (the person reciting the alphabet, switches to pick up the counting by 3s, who switches to naming the colors, who switches to the alphabet, etc.  The Switcher should have at least 4 switches before the crew finishes all tasks.  Measure the cumulative time.

I suggest they perform the task visibly in front of the observers, by writing on a whiteboard their task.  This allows for the whole group to share the experience, and observe the task-switching efficiencies.

What's the Problem?

As the difficulty of the task increases from simple rote memory (alphabet) and keeping track of where in the sequence we are, to some form of mental processing along with sequence progression, to unique processing for each item in the list (for example the prime numbers) the only aspect that becomes more challenging to the human is memory of where in the sequence we leave off when switching.  It is very likely that some humans are much better then others at this short-term storage of the place that was left off in the sequence.  But does this short term memory usage effect the ability to perform the next task?  At what number of tasks does the typical human need some form of memory aid - an externalization of the complicated multitude of task?  A white board and writing task could perform this externalization - want to try that experiment?


Resources:

Common number sequences:

Even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, ...
Odd Numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, ...
Square Numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, ...
Cube Numbers 1, 8, 27, 64, 125, ...
Doubling Numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, ...
Prime Numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, etc.
Fibonacci Numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ...

Notes on the Treble Staff:

E
very Good Boy Does Fine.  FACE 


Roy G. Biv is an acronym for the colors of the rainbow:

R = Red
O = Orange
Y = Yellow
G = Green
B = Blue
I = Indigo
V = Violet

The common order of multiple adjectives in English: 
Quantity, Value/opinion, Size, Temperature, Age, Shape, Color, Origin, Material
(ef.edu - English Grammar)

See Also:

Henrik Kniberg's Multitasking Name Game (PDF)
Multitask writing 5 names - then single task writing 5 names.  Debrief the experience.
Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

Team Performance Model - by Drexler and Sibbet

Many of you have all heard of the Tuckman model of team dynamics (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).  It was created in 1966 and has become the most popular model for describing team behavior.  Is it time to level up in your mental model of team dynamics?  Are you ready for a richer more functional model?



Introducing the Team Performance Model by Drexler and Sibbet



Orientation - Why am I here?
"Orientation is about understanding the purpose of a team and assessing what it will mean to be a member.  you need to understand the reason the team exist, what will be expected of you and how you will benefit from membership.  In a new team, these are individual concerns, because the group is only potentially a team.  that is why these concerns are illustrated as occurring in your imagination at an intuitive level.  As a team leader it is important to provide time and space for people to answer these internal questions themselves."

Keys to when Orientation challenges are resolve…

Refactoring - examples from the book

Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?

The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder …