Think Multitasking is Hard? Try Multifunctioning.
Can you really commit to the all the work you’ve got going on? “I couldn’t Commit” During the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, the 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne Division was tasked with clearing out the town of Foy in Belgium. The famed E (“Easy”) company of the 2nd battalion was charged with…
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Can you really commit to the all the work you’ve got going on?
“I couldn’t Commit”
During the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, the 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne Division was tasked with clearing out the town of Foy in Belgium. The famed E (“Easy”) company of the 2nd battalion was charged with commencing the direct attack on Foy.
In the woods facing the 200 meters of open field that led to Foy, Capt. Richard Winters, commander of the 2nd battalion, stood by to supervise the operation. He watched as his beloved E company, where he began his service years before, went on the attack.
Commanding E company was Lt. Norman Dike, an officer who was not received well with his men, who thought him to be a poor an indecisive leader. Sure enough, when E company was 70 meters from the town, with enemy sniper fire raining on them from the windows of the buildings in front, Lt. Dike froze. When he froze, the company froze. And E company soldiers began to fall wounded and dead.
Captain Winters knew, as well as others, that all that was needed was a strong leader to lead the company those final 70 meters and into the town. He decided to be that leader and do the job himself. He was more than capable in combat, and he knew the men of E company would follow him anywhere. But as he began running through that field to join E company, he stopped. He realized that he was leading the entire 2nd battalion. There was no way he could commit to leading E company on an attack when he also had a battalion to lead.
He quickly ran back and assigned the duty of leading E company to an officer standing nearby in the woods, Capt. Ronald Spiers. Spiers promptly ran to E company, relieved Lt. Dike of his command, and led the successful attack on Foy with great bravery. He also went on to be their admired company commander for the rest of the war.
What can we learn from this?
Today’s work environment and tools empower us in ways we have not known before. With just a laptop computer, we can be a movie director, a music producer, a teacher, a consultant, a CEO, and the list goes on… These are all different roles – different functions.
It’s tempting to be all at once. But we need to recognize our roles – our functions. Capt. Winters’ role was battalion commander, not company commander. He realized that at a crucial moment – he realized he couldn’t commit.
I have a business that provides Hebrew translation services. My roles are business owner, project manager, and main translator. But my business, like most any business, needs a website.
Today I am building the website for my business for the third time. This is not because the previous sites were so successful that they needed an upgrade. This is because the previous sites were two attempts that got abandoned. Why? Because I was “multifunctioning” – switching between roles.
Site 1: It’s a Small Business, Not a Piece of Software
When I built the first site, I did the branding, then the site design and development. Everything got stuck at the development stage, because I decided I wanted to develop a unique piece of software to go with the site. So, I functioned as business owner, brand designer, web designer, and web developer all at once. Four roles. Because I ran out of time and money to finish that final piece of software, I abandoned the site.
I realized that I am not a web developer. I couldn’t commit.
Site 2: A Solo Business, Not a Small Company
When I built the second site, I tried to create a team for my business, and a new type of service – live translation. These would all be featured on the website. I was trying to build the site and develop my business (new team, new service) at the same time. I realized that the team and new service were not sustainable for the business, so I abandoned the site.
I am not a team leader or a live translator. I couldn’t commit.
Today I’m building the third site. Here’s my blueprint for getting it done:
- Branding. I get to take off my business owner hat and put on my brand designer hat. The way for me to stick with this role is to assign a project to it. Once the project is complete, I can be released from that role.
- Web Design. Repeat the process for the web designer role – assign a project to the role, and stick to it until it’s complete.
- Web Development. With the conclusion that I am not a web developer, I am relying on a third-party service for this.
- Content Strategy. Think a website is done once it’s built? Think again. Now I have to use the site, build an audience, and add value for them. You need content. I’ll assume that role when I get there, because it’s one thing I’m capable of doing – but I can’t commit to it just yet.
How many roles can you fill? Writer, editor, designer? CEO, accountant, manager? Developer, designer, marketing expert? Musician, producer, engineer?
Here’s how to handle it:
- Recognize and list the roles involved.
- Identify which roles you can fill, and which ones you need to delegate or outsource (and go over it a second and third time to be sure).
- Assign a project to each role. Then commit not to switch roles until the project is complete. For example, don’t build the site before the brand is ready, don’t start the content strategy until the site is ready, etc.
We all know multitasking doesn’t make for good tactical work. Multifunctioning doesn’t make for good strategic work. Think about it.