The Multitasking Name Game – or How Long Does it Take to Write a Name?

Here’s a useful simulation that illustrates how bad multitasking is, and how easily we get drawn into it.

The article is primarily written for teachers and facilitators who want to know how this simulation works and how to facilitate it successfully. However, anybody else reading the article will probably gain an appreciation for the issue of multitasking and will hopefully see ways to reveal and solve the problem in their own workplace.

18 responses on “The Multitasking Name Game – or How Long Does it Take to Write a Name?

  1. Thanks for writing about this game! Since you introduced me to it at the Kanban Leadership course in early 2010 I played this game on various occasions like Kanban or Scrum introductions. It was always very educating for the participants and fun of course 🙂

  2. Really like the idea of this simulation and I am looking forward to trying it.

    I’ve used a simple simulation in the past to show the impact of multi-tasking (get people to head two pages with “numbers”, “alphabet” and “roman numerals” and fill in 1 through 10 (a – j; i – x) by first going across the page, then down and note the time the difference for each case) and this gets the base message across (plus it is a really quick exercise).

    What I like about this simulation is that it shows directly the impact on project delivery and risk reduction and also introduces the concept of WIP limits which is only drawn out by inference in my previous approach. Nicely done.

  3. Hello Henrik,

    Thank-you for sharing this resource with us.

    As always it is very, very useful – much like the two books that you shared so freely on InfoQ.

    Much appreciate your help.

    Just FYI – the original docx that you mention on the page is not a docx – but a pdf file. Just FYI.

    Best Regards

  4. Both Ken Rubin and Jeff Sutherland recently recommended this to me and credited you. I just ran it at a small meetup and had many aha moments happen. This is exactly what I have been looking for to be able to highlight context switching costs at the individual, team and organization levels. I plan on running this many more times in the near future. Thank you so much for the excellent write up.

  5. Used this as inspiration (but credited to you, of course!) for a quick game which I ran for our team recently.

    We already know each other so we chose new names randomly from a set I’d prepared (which ended up being quite a source of amusement).

    Anyway, it was a great success, driving home the point of why we have WIP limits in our processes but in a fun and enjoyable way.

    Thanks Henrik! 🙂

  6. Does anyone know of a YouTube or other public video showing this game played?

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