An Agile Way of Thinking

“Multitasking makes you stupid” – Jeff Sutherland


Now, hear us out… 


The Agile way of working is everywhere, even if you don’t know it. One of the main tenets of this way of working is focusing on ONE task at a time. Studies show that if you work on multiple items at the same time, it WILL take you longer to complete one of the things as well as the overall time for all the items. In our Scrum Master course that we hosted earlier this month, attendees learned this by participating in a simple exercise. (Join us in July to learn what that exercise is!) But we wanted to bring it into the real world.


What was your first job? It may be a cashier job. We know it was for many of our team members.


Picture it – you are 18 and working as a cashier at your local supermarket or clothing store. You have a line of 5 people all waiting to purchase their groceries for the week or the latest trends; at that time, you are being Agile and only focusing on ONE customer at a time. That customer has one mission “As a customer, I want to purchase food items so that, I can feed myself/family for the week” OR “As a customer, I want to purchase these clothing items so that, I can wear them out this weekend,” you as the cashier are delivering value to that customer by touching one item at a time, scanning it, and placing into a bag, ultimately resulting in them paying for those items and walking out. 


Now think of the SAME scenario, but you as the cashier are working two cash registers at a time and cashing out two customers; while you are still delivering value and working towards that customers mission, you are touching multiple items at the same time going back and forth between registered keeping each customer waiting while you multitask, you may even make a mistake and place the wrong food item or clothing item in the wrong bag, causing that customer to return to the store to exchange costing them more time. 


While we don’t think multitasking actually makes you stupid, the Agile way of working, whether it is Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, Scrum@Scale, SAFE, or another framework, they all have the same way of thinking when it comes to working. One task at a time. In fact, that is why a lot of the digital Agile project management tools allow you to have WIP (work in process) limits to help minimize multitasking. 


How do you minimize multitasking? Share below!

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