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Two Heads Are Better Than One

Two Heads Are Better Than One

After careful consideration I've come to the conclusion that having two heads is better than having just one. While it may sound like I'm simply stating the obvious, in fact, most people have only one head.1 However, those who are blessed with two heads enjoy a measurable advantage over their single-headed rivals. This conclusion was affirmed in a headline-grabbing paper by two Princeton economists for the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled "Are Two Heads Better Than One?"2

Having multiple heads is most beneficial when performing work that requires multitasking, such as speaking on two phones at the same time. Though that may seem like an inconsequential skill, how would your life change if you never had to put anyone on hold? Or you could speak to both your children at the same time? Or you could see behind you? Or never lose at a game of Trivial Pursuit? Telecommuters who watch TV and work at the same time could actually be productive!3 I'm sure you can see where I'm going here.

That being said, I must concede that having multiple heads is not for everyone. Consider a man who is clumsy, klutzy, or suffers from recurrent dizziness. That man would likely be bonking his heads together constantly. Severe and permanent injuries could result. Even worse, having three or more heads could cause severe neck cramping. Obviously, the person would be more susceptible to head games. Sacrifices would also have to be made. Solitaire, for example, would need to be given up. In many cases, it may be better to just stick with one.

Now to my point. You've seen Bob Hendry's head on pages in this magazine for several years. No, it's not pretty, but it is functional. While many of you have considered him a head case, others see him as head and shoulders above the other writers who are much shorter than him. Anyway, I have asked him to join me as editor-in-chief of PBDJ...and surprisingly, he has accepted. Of course, this situation raises the awkward question: "How can two people be editors at the same time?!" Well, the Princeton economists hit the nail on the head when they determined that groups of one are more likely to come to unanimous decisions than groups of two or more. We're facing that problem head-on and have decided to always agree unanimously, whether we agree or not.

As coeditors, we will each continue to perform many very important tasks; then when we're done with those, we'll spend what free time we have left working on this magazine. Please join me in welcoming Bob to his new post by flooding him with dozens of article proposals marked "process immediately!" ;-)

1. The 2000 U.S. census* indicated that the vast majority of Americans have exactly one head. Statistics show that it is an anomaly for persons to have more than one head.
*Persons with 0 heads were not counted in the census.

2. Chiu Hays, Y. (2001). "Study Affirms: Two Heads Are Better Than One." Princeton Weekly Bulletin. Vol. 90, No. 16. www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/01/0212/1b.shtml

3. Though telecommuters may become more productive with the addition of each head, it's more likely that they would obtain additional televisions so they could watch more than one show at a time.

More Stories By John Olson

John D. Olson is a principal of Developower, Inc., a consulting company specializing in software solutions using Sybase development tools. A CPD Professional and charter member of TeamSybase, he is co-editor and author of two PB9 books, and the recipient of the ISUG Innovation and Achievement Award for 2003.

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