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
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
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
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.