- Aug 2018
User studies and intuition both suggest that the activities that a knowledge worker engages in change—sometimes dramatically—over time. Projects and milestones come and go, and the tools and information resources used within an activity often change over time as well. Furthermore, activities completed in the past and their outcomes often impact activities in the present, and ongoing activities will, in turn, affect activities that will be undertaken in the future. Capturing activity over the course of time has long been a problem for desktop computing.
"Activities are dynamic"
This challenge features temporal relationships between work and worker, in the past/present sense, and work and goals, in the present/future sense.
Evokes Reddy's T/R/H temporal organization of work and Bluedorn's work on polychronicity.
- Jul 2018
he two patterns—monochronic and polychronic—form a continuum, because polychronicity is the extent to which people prefer to engage in two or more tasks simultaneously, and the complete absence of any simultaneous involvements, engaging tasks one at a time, is the least polychronic position on the continuum.
Monochronic side of the continuum is linear
Polychronic side of the continuum is cyclical
Could Adam's timescape help to further describe this phenomenon? (see Perspectives on time: Zimabrdo + Adam slidedeck)
linear = spatial, historical, irreversible, tied to a beginning
cyclical = process, rhythmic, seasonal, bounded, sequential, hopeful (past+future+present)
The retention of “many problems in their minds simultaneously” speaks direcdy to the definition of polychronicity, mental activity being a component of polychronicity as well as overt behavior (Persing 1999)
Polychronicity is both a mental activity and overt behavior. It describes activity patterns.
Per Bluedorn, polychronicity is not multitasking which "combines speed and activity-pattern dimensions."
The dimensions include cognitive stages of processing, (task selection vs task performance), codes of processing (spatial vs linguistic), and modalities (audio vs visual). See Mark (2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=tq42DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT21&lpg=PT21&dq=bluedorn+multitasking&source=bl&ots=9ApyVTkXnI&sig=kwysyZ3eJp264Ngs57dUAV1Fy-o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjL4MX53sXcAhViMH0KHU2LBscQ6AEwBnoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=bluedorn%20multitasking&f=false
Mixed results for relationship between gender and polychronicity. No relationship between age and polychronicity. People with some formal higher education have higher degrees of polychronic attitudes and behaviors.
Perhaps because people with polychronic traits seek out higher ed?<br> Perhaps due to professional states that demand multiple tasks and/or speed.
Such questions not only point the direction for expanding our knowledge of polychronicity but also suggest the likelihood of various social and psychological determinants of it. One such determinant seems especially intriguing, and it is the individual’s breadth of attention. Breadth of attention is “the number and range of stimuli attended to at any one time” (Kasof 1997, p. 303). This concept is used to describe screeners, people who focus on a small range of stimuli and filter or “screen out” other stimuli. Conversely, nonscreeners attend to a large range of stimuli and are aware of a much larger range of potentially unrelated stimuli (Kasof 1997)
3rd wave: Is polychronicity related to "breadth of attention" -- or the ability to focus on multiple streams of thought/information while filtering/screening out distraction?
This idea would seems to have clear implications for SBTF social coordination work.
So does polychronicity scale? Or is it a nested phenomenon whereby someone might be monochronic within hour- long intervals but polychronic when the frame enlarges to a month? And if so, what might be the consequences of different nesting combinations?
3rd wave: Does polychronicity scale over time periods larger than a daily work setting? Does it change depending upon the temporal trajectory, rhythm, or horizon?
figure 3.4. Forms of polychronic and monochronic patterns of behavior
Proposed new polychronicity typology that examines the difference between the types of tasks and the difference in the number of tasks.
Low/low = few tasks of similar type High/low = many tasks of different types High/high = many diverse tasks Low/high = few tasks of different types
Challenge with this type of analysis is that there are few (at least by 2002 publication date) task classifiers to qualitatively discern task differences. Bluedorn suggests potentially adapting a job characteristics/skill variety model -or- modifying a consumer products inventory of number/types of senses used (vision, hearing, tactile, etc.) as a skill variety attribute.
In SBTF's case, activations may be considered: High/Low (Quantitative polychronicity)
June Cotte and S. Ratneshwar (1999) have certainly documented the ability of some people to vary their behavior radically along the polychronicity continuum as they moved between work and leisure activities. Hall suggested the facility to make such shifts may be related to what he called a “high adaptive factor” (Bluedorn 1998, p. 114), such people being more flexible along the polychronicity continuum than others. In a life context of varying polychronicity demands, perhaps an individual whose own polychronicity lies near the average of the varying environmental demands might be able to cope most readily with them because the largest adjustment required would be smaller, hence less potentially uncomfortable or stressing than from any other position on the polychronicity continuum
3rd wave: Assuming polychronicity is a trait, are some people more adaptive to changes in polychronicity in different situations?
Does adaptability (or lack thereof) contribute to a friction point in work processes that could be modified to accommodate individual workers or organization values within the polychronic continuum?
Brown and Eisenhardt studied change and project management in computer firms and found that firms with less successful project portfolios demonstrated very low amounts of communication across projects. This was part of the context in which projects were planned, divided into small tasks, and then executed in a “structured sequence of steps” (1997, p. 14). A structured sequence is, of course, a monochronic strategy, and the low amount of communication is consistent with the proposition that monochronic strategies generate less awareness of other activities and tasks. One of the managers in their study remarked, “Most people only look at their part” (p. 14); another, “The work of everyone else doesn’t really affect my work” (p. 14). These responses contrasted with the pattern of work in the companies that managed their portfolios of projects more successfully, which Brown and Eisenhardt characterized as “iterative” (p. 14). Iterative (repetitive) patterns are suggestive of the back and forth flow of polychronic strategies
Iterative/repetitive work patterns suggest "back and forth flow of polychronic strategies."
Key point for SBTF social coordination: "At the less successful it was difficult to adjust projects in changing conditions because 'once started, the process took over.' It was hard to backtrack or reshape product specifications as circumstances changed."
Polychronic strategy: Higher level of willingness to adjust/correct work per feedback.
Monchronic strategy: Greater degree of satisificing in decision making.
High group performance is related to moderate polychronicity in organizations with matrix structures (cross functional firms where an employee reports to multiple managers).
Organizations with greater speed in making strategic decisions, have higher performance in high tempo groups. Also, considering multiple options at the same time led to faster decisions.
Mixed results on relationships between polychronic values in a company and its financial performance.
So individual polychronicity is related to several individual variables. Relative to less polychronic people, more polychronic people appear to have more of the following:• Extraversión (extroversion)• Favorable inclination toward change• Tolerance of ambiguity• Formal education• Striving for achievement• Impatience and irritability• Frequency of lateness and absenteeismThose same people appear to have less of the following:• Conscientiousness• Stress (only in some jobs)But, as will be revealed in the following section, these are not the only individual variables to which individual polychronicity is related
Polychronic relationships with Individual traits.
Both studies reveal a positive correlation between polychronicity and speed values: The more polychronic the organization, the more doing things rapidly is valued in its culture. Although these consistent findings about the speed-polychronicity relationship support the explanation of the size- polychronicity relationship developed in this discussion, they are not a direct test of this explanation, which is, admittedly, speculative. More direct tests must await studies deliberately designed to investigate this explanation
Larger firms appear to more polychronic. That finding seems to follow Bluedorn's own speculative findings of a relationship between polychronic organizations and a culture that values speed (time compression).
Note: Organizational studies of polychronicity have been conducted through quantitative methods (surveys and questionnaires).
in a more polychronic culture, people would stand closer to each other while talking. So time and space are related in the social as well as the physical world.
Could the relationship between polychronicity and physical proximity help to explain the use of situated and/or spatial language in globalized, virtual social coordination work?
Note: National studies of polychronicity have been conducted through qualitative methods (observation and interviews)
At the level of individual beliefs and behavior, the nature of polychronicity as either a trait or a state becomes an important issue. Ifit is a trait, individuals will be much more consistent, even habitual, in the polychronicity process strategies they follow, more consistent than if polychronicity preferences are a state. But if polychronicity is a state, it will be affected much more by the contextual factors in an individual’s environment, leading to much greater variability in patterns of polychronicity behavior. So the degree of stability or its converse, the amount of variability, would provide important clues about polychronicity’s statelike or traitlike identity.
Later, Bluedorn notes other polychronicity studies that point to it being a more stable, habitual trait than a variable, contextual state.
At the group level—group referring to all potential culture-carrying aggregations larger than a single individual (e.g., departments, organizations, societies, etc.)—polychronicity is a value and belief complex that manifests itself in overt process strategies. Although the strength with which it is held may vary, as a fundamental process strategy—it is fair to say the fundamental process strategy—whichever position along the polychronicity continuum is normative in a culture is apt to be held strongly. This is because such process strategies are mainly learned unintentionally, usually unconsciously. Such learned knowledge is retained at the level of culture Edgar Schein (1992) labeled basic underlying assumptions. This deepest of cultural levels normally contains beliefs and values prescribing behaviors that are so taken for granted and institutionalized that they seldom rise to the conscious level for extensive examination and discussion (Schein 1992, p. 22). Consequently, they are difficult to change, and in this sense they are strongly held.
Is this due to LPP or some other cultural learning strategy?
From the beginning (Hall 1981b), polychronicity has been analyzed at both the group and individual levels. As such, it has been seen as both a cultural and an individual phenomenon. And values about the same phenomenon can and do occur in both cultures and personalities, but this does not mean that relationships involving them are the same across levels of analysis (e.g., Dansereau, Alutto, and Yammarino 1984; Robinson 1950). Relationships found at one level of analysis, individual or group, are suggestive of those relationships at another and are reasonable justifications for hypothesizing their existence as a prelude to their empirical investigation, such investigation clearly being necessary to establish the existence of relationships across multiple levels of analysis
Polychronicity can be studied across different levels of analysis -- individual and group.
This is important for establishing empirical research design and for confidence in understanding how relationships/variables occur across levels.
Critical piece for SBTF interview study to see how polychronicity is reflected in group and individuals.
Although it is easier to see this distinction in terms of a dichotomy—polychronic or monochronic—polychronicity is a variable that reflects an underlying continuum of engagement preferences and practices, and a potentially infinite set of gradations distinguish one individual’s preferences from another’s, as well as one culture’s from another’s
Polychronicity is not a binary state. It functions more as gradients within a "continuum of engagement preferences and practices" for both individuals and for work cultures.
The behavior and/or attitude is scored on a high (polychronic) or low (monochronic) scale.
Moreover, the correlations between the preference-for-engaging-two- or-more-events-simultaneously dimension and the other dimensions in the best-fitting model were very low, so Palmer and Schoorman concluded, “The three dimensions of time use preference [ preference-for-engaging-two-or- more-events-simultaneously], time tangibility, and context do not represent . highly correlated measures and should be considered separately” (1999, p. 336).
The more narrowly focused definition is better suited to empirical testing between polychronicity and other variables, such as context, etc.
Related work found low correlations between polychronicity and other time variables.
Following Bluedorn et al. (1999, p. 207) and Hall (Bluedorn 1998, p. no), polychronicity is the extent to which people (1) prefer to be engaged in two or more tasks or events simultaneously and are actually so engaged (the preference strongly implying the behavior and vice versa), and (2) believe their preference is the best way to do things.
Bluedorn's definition of polychronicity, originally described by Edward Hall in broader terms.
The “going back” is indicative of the back-and-forth pattern of polychronic behavior, because it is another way of engaging several activities during the same tim
use of spatial metaphor to describe polychronic behavior.
And although an infinite number of patterns are possible, all strategies for engaging life’s activities fall along a continuum known as polychronicity, a continuum describing the extent to which people engage themselves in two or more activities simultaneously. That this choice is fundamental is revealed by the fact that most people most of the time are unaware that they are even making it. This is because the choice of strategy results from a combination of culture and personality, both of which store these choices and preferences at deep levels, very deep levels. Nevertheless, a choice or a decision made unconsciously is still a choice or a decision
Decision strategies, like polychronicity, are often intuitive and unconscious.
Bluedorn mentions how culture and personality play a critical role in decision strategies. Potential intersection with Zimbardo's time perspective theory.
- time compression
- temporal rhythm
- time perspective
- temporal horizon
- social coordination
- temporal trajectory
By mosaic, we mean that time is often simultaneouslyinhabited by multiple types of interaction that are forced to form a coherent whole. Unlikeconcepts like multi-tasking(doing multiple tasks ‘at once’) or polychronicity(a reported preference for doing multiple tasks at once) , mosaic timerefers to the negotiated merging of multiple social spheres into a layered or fitted set of simultaneous interactions
Definition of mosaic time. Counters the idea (ideal?) of single purpose time.
Is negotiated not imposed.
Does not include multitasking or polychronicity.