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multitask

Task vs. Multitask, Who Wins?

BY White Label IQ

Modern hygiene has been around a long time, so this question probably has been, too:

Q: “Why do I get my best ideas in the shower before going to work?”

A: “The shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely… more open to the inner stream of consciousness1.”

Ironically, the shower is a situation where creative business thinkers feel that they are not underwater (figuratively). Although they might be swimming in it at the office later that day, navigating challenges as they arise.

That Q-and-A above (paraphrased) is according to Scott Barry Kaufman a Professor of Psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University. Shower time is… relaxed, fewer distractions, a non-judgmental environment, distanced from the day-to-day grind of the office space.

So, when it coms to creative thinking, singular focus is good. Like shower time. One specific task at hand and the clarity of mind to solve for it.

But now let’s look at multitaskers, the flipside of the equation*. Multitaskers are common personas that one will find in a busy marketing agency.

An example is the popular Jack or Jill of all trades. Or, the unicorn at the agency. Those who effectively wear more hats than their peers. Maybe they oversee a particular service offering, such as web development. They understand the breadth… strategy, creative, programming, account management, creative management and so on. Maybe they even know some JavaScript and CSS and can manage plug-ins.

They’re like a pulse within the agency.

They’re not delivering a complex website project on their own but can lead the entire process. And if that process is in-house, it means they’ll inherently end up managing all the different players in one way or another… front-end, back-end, in-between, A-to-Z.

The fallout is that this very valuable strategic leader is now mired in project coordination and personnel tasks. Suddenly less big-picture. Less focus.

agency

However, an outsource partner can return that focus to the unicorns. Allowing them to once again be dedicated to the big-picture thinking that they do best. That is, broad strokes… without the minutiae. Meanwhile, the outsource will provide all of the web-dev personnel, without all of the in-house management and infrastructure required. No salaries, nor hiring and onboarding and people management. Fewer desks and workstations.

The distracting, commoditized production work is handled offsite, out of the way. The overall project costs less. The agency is only paying wholesale for all of that support. One hundred percent productivity vs. a combo of staffing uptime and downtime within a backdrop of full-time payroll and benefits.

It’s akin to a core-flex staffing solution where the core, or hub of the agency is salaried and all about the strategic thought… the owners, the leaders, the pulse… focused and specialized.

And the spokes radiating outward from the core are support staff that can be added flexibly, only as needed… developers and sysadmins and designers and QA and SEO and on and on. Not a fixed staffing cost. But a variable pass-along cost that optimizes the agency’s adjusted gross income. And not a random line-up of disparate freelancers, either.

Instead, it’s one singularly focused outsource overseeing all of the developers and job boards and project management. Maybe dozens of technicians.

And the unicorn oversees that single source.

Another application is the concept of fill-gap staffing. Where maybe the agency is perfectly happy with a degree of DevOps in house. That’s good. Use them in that case, of course. But as those staffers come-and-go over time, or need to be augmented, an outsource partner can fill gaps and backfill as needed.

Agency owners and leaders are the intelligence of the agency… that dedication to the overarching task the agency delivers. Maybe it’s strategy in a niche position, or research or automation or branding. Multitaskers may be part of that equation, too, but not if distracted by the minutiae of what they do versus the big picture of it.

Task vs. Multitask: with outsourcing, they both win.

*There’s often great value in taking a look at: the other side of the equation. Consider the B-sides of records that have done better than the A-sides2We Will Rock You (Queen), Revolution (The Beatles), You Can’t Always Get What You Want (The Stones), to name a few famous B’s.

Hard to imagine, but sometimes the flipside gets ignored.

1Smith, J., “72% of people get their best ideas in the shower — here’s why,” Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-get-their-best-ideas-in-the-shower-2016-1, Jan 2016.

2X-Lists, “B-sides that became more famous than the A-Sides”, Radio X, https://www.radiox.co.uk/features/x-lists/b-sides-more-famous-than-a-sides/, Feb 22, 2022.

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