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The great American Business Masquerade

By Charles Hopkins Published 09/20/2007 | Business and Finance
When one thinks of great American businesses of the past names like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., William Randolph Hearst and a myriad of others come to mind. The great robber barons of old built businesses on the backs of hardworking employees that toiled for long hours and most often on wages and work ethics, most today cannot understand.

This was a time of innocence and growth as a nation. The rules of business back then were simpler and in most cases made a lot more sense as shown through business practices that made sense to the common man. Somewhere along the journey, this set of ideals was replaced by people lacking the common sense business practices of yesteryear with people who no longer owned the business but by employees managing employees.

With this we have seemed to turn business into a great game of which way is the wind blowing. Many American businesses are no longer run for the good of its owners but rather for a select groups of individuals that are more concerned with the closing price of their stock options today rather than what is best for the long-term health and development of the company over the long-term.

While our Asian counter parts plan for ten, twenty and a hundred years from now American businesses are stuck worrying about the next fiscal quarter. Out of this short-term philosophy come poor business judgments and even more foolish business practices. One such currently popular business practice known as multi-tasking is a prime example of the lack of common sense.

On the surface, multi-tasking sounds like the golden formula to solve all our competitive problems, someone doing two or three tasks at once will be able to do so much more now. Sounds great on the surface, right? While in theory this may sound like a good way to get more done and be more responsive to the ever changing world with all its mishaps and fires that must be dealt with, it is not the nirvana it is made out to be.

When in practice this has to be one of the most ill advised practices of modern business there could be. Why you may ask? Although the thought of the human robot doing multiple task at once like a computer running multiple programs at once sounds great on the surface, the sad fact is humans are not computers and all the managerial pressure in the world is not going to change this.

Humans work best at one task at a time with minimal interruption. Every time we have to change tasks to do, something else creates an interruption, which in turn takes time to switch gears from and come up to speed on the new task. It is rather like having to restart your computer every time you want to do a new document or a new program for a moment if you had to do this how much would your computer get done in the day?

If every restart took just three minutes, this would add up to hours every week. Why then is it that American business loves this so much, because it is busy work people look like they are so busy and getting so much done when in essence if they were left to one task at a time they would get almost an extra days worth of work done in the same amount of time. So, lose the multi-tasking super highway and let humans' function humanely again.