Timing:1 Hour


Most of us find ourselves multitasking at some point and are possibly even proud of our multitasking skills. Here is one game that was created by Tobias Mayer with collaboration from  Alan Cyment and introduced to me by Gerry Kirk and Yves Hanoulle at SDEC11 that allows you to simulate the actual costs of task switching. The game involves pairing up to perform three different simple but coordinated tasks and comparing your times and experiences after using both multitasking and single tasking processes. It generates a lot of laughs and a lot of excellent discussion.

Learning Points:

Exposing the myths of multitasking and demonstrating the costs of task switching. Tips and links for avoiding multitasking.

When your team is ready for it, this is a great game for starting the discussion on multitasking (personal and project) and how to change.

Link to Game: http://winnipegagilist.blogspot.com/2012/01/multitasking-game-handsnumberssong.html

7 thoughts on “Multitasking Game – Hands/Numbers/Song

  1. We use this game in our Scrum class. I love this game. It teaches an important message of the high cost of context switching and matrixing people across multiple teams/efforts. I also love the fact it brings great energy and movement to the class.

    BTW, we did change the game a bit in that with flu season, we are no longer having the students clap each other’s hands. They are now bumping elbows instead.

  2. Hi all. It’s great to hear this exercise has been of use. I just wanted to make sure Tobias Mayer gets the credit for coming up with this game. I simply collaborated with him during an Open Space in a Scrum Gathering some years ago in order to come up with the final version.


  3. I played this game with over 50 people 3 months ago, and they still talk about it and the lessons they learned. The first round was chaotic, the second so calm it was unreal!

  4. I’ve played/facilitated a few different multitask games, this is the first one where I really *felt* the stress, decrease in quality and productivity. Downside is you need a decent number of people to make it work, I normally only do this with large groups of 16 or more.

    1. I totally agree that this game is great for not only seeing the numbers behind multi-tasking but also feeling the stress. As for team size, I did it with 8 a few months ago and it worked fantastic.


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