The Business-Technology Weave

Jun 30 2013   10:22AM GMT

Thoughts on the Human “Machine,” Multi-tasking, and Resources

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

In the discussion of multi-tasking, there was a natural discussion of resources:  Time being a very important resource; People being another.

However, someone made some potent observations, essentially saying that there is no such thing as ‘multi-tasking,’ being that people are at best capable of “serial fast-switching.”  I like that.

But that makes humans seem like a machine, in that person’s mind, and the thought was that we must stop equating humans to machines; we even have to stop treating people as “resources.”  The stated reasons include:

- Resources are something we use.

- Resources can be interchangeable with like-resources.

- Resources are generally available on-demand.

- Resources are often consumed by the process.

The question was posed:  “Are you a human resource?”  My answer is, “Yes.”

- We use people.  If you prefer, we utilize people and their associated knowledge, skills, and time (availability).

- We generally like people in IT to be, if not perfectly interchangeable, able to provide backup services if a primary person is unavailable.  Coverage and continuity is everything in IT/business.

- People are certainly available on-demand; HelpDesk, anyone?  How about a phone call from the boss:  “Sally, can you come in here for a moment?  Thanks…”.  We’re polite and respectful for people’s prior obligations, and schedules, but we’re essentially available on-demand.

- People aren’t “consumed” literally (well…).  But our time is consumed, and any person’s fulfillment as a resource is based on time/availability:  That is a consumption.

So, people are a resource:  People, and their associated knowledge, manpower (person-power?), and contributions, are most definitely a collective resource.  After all, if you don’t have enough of them, in the right proportions, with the right skills and knowledge, you’re in for a hurtin’.

And, technically speaking, they make a pretty good appearance as a “machine” to the other parts of the overall IT/business machine.

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