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TECH TALK: An Entrepreneurs Attributes: Multitasking Switching Context Rapidly

November 19th, 2003 · No Comments

One way to go through a day is to focus on one thing at a time, complete it and then move on to the next. An entrepreneur needs exactly the opposite attitude. This is because challenges do not come sequentially. The next problem does not wait for the previous one to complete an entrepreneurs life is not a PowerPoint presentation.

Multitasking is at the heart of an entrepreneurs day and life. The phone rings and needs to be answered, an urgent email needs a reply, a team member needs a map of the way forward, a customer is unhappy, a sales call needs to be made all pretty much at the same time. In this scenario, one can throw ones hands up or smile, and jump right into it. In doing so, an entrepreneur needs the ability to switch from one context to another rapidly.

Think of the computer. It gives the illusion of doing multiple tasks simultaneously, even though a single processor (in the pre-hyperthreading days) can handle only one task at a time. It is working on one activity, and a priority request comes in for another activity to be done. The current work has to be offloaded on to the stack, the new context has been loaded into memory and executed. When the task is done, the previous work on the stack can be taken up again unless there is some other interrupt that has come in.

Such is the activity sequence of an entrepreneur. Many may deride the entrepreneurs lack of focus or inability to delegate effectively. The reality is that the entrepreneur has no choice. This is not necessarily because the entrepreneur is a poor operational manager and therefore a critical resource and perhaps a bottleneck. It is because the entrepreneur has the compass and the landscape in the minds eye. It is not easy to translate this to everyone, and so the others need a guide, a torchbearer who leads the way. In doing so, the entrepreneur thus ends up having to manage multiple activities, especially at the early stage of a venture.

My typical day has context switches between Pragatee, Emergic, Deeshaa and BlogStreet. There are times when I wonder if I am trying to do too much. Maybe, I should try and focus on just one activity. But then I wonder how I would live through a single-track day. The diversity itself is an activity amplifier making connections between them, seeing the similarities and the differences, and learning from one and applying to another. It is the only way I can imagine living and working.

One either likes context switching or not. It is not easy to do. But when at the end of the day, the entrepreneur sits back and thinks for a moment about the day, there will be a sense of satisfaction, even a little smile irrespective of how the day went. And then, as the eyes close for a night of sleep, the entrepreneur is already looking forward to the list of tasks that already await the light of the next morning.

Tomorrow: Deciding


TECH TALK An Entrepreneurs Attributes+T

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