From Hyper to Hyper-Focused: ADHD in the Workplace | Summary and Q&A

July 2, 2012
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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From Hyper to Hyper-Focused: ADHD in the Workplace

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In this video, Maile Lassika discusses what it's like to have ADHD and how to effectively manage someone with ADHD in order to maximize the relationship. She shares both the challenges and strengths associated with ADHD, including difficulties with social relationships and forgetfulness, as well as high-energy levels, hyperfocus, and creative thinking. Maile also emphasizes the importance of coaching, providing clarity, encouraging creativity, and using ADHD individuals as catalysts within organizations.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the challenges of having ADHD?

Having ADHD can make social relationships difficult, as individuals with ADHD struggle to maintain one-on-one connections due to their mind constantly wandering. They are also forgetful and tend to take longer to complete tasks they don't enjoy. Communication can be challenging as well, with thoughts moving faster than words and resulting in jumbled speech.

Q: What are the strengths of having ADHD?

Despite the challenges, individuals with ADHD possess unique strengths. They are high-energy and can bring an element of fun to any situation. When they find something they are excited about, they can be hyper-focused, allowing them to excel in specific areas. They are also not linear thinkers and can spend time on different ideas, which can result in creative and innovative thinking.

Q: How common is ADHD?

ADHD is more common than people realize, with approximately 7% of the U.S. population diagnosed with the condition. However, it is believed that this number is underdiagnosed, as women and high achievers often find ways to work around their ADHD symptoms.

Q: How can someone effectively manage a person with ADHD?

One approach is coaching, where investing time and effort into coaching someone with ADHD can yield positive results. Providing feedback and guidance after meetings or presentations can help them improve their communication and other skills. Another essential aspect is clarity, as individuals with ADHD require clear deadlines and instructions. Making lists and regularly communicating expectations can facilitate better task completion.

Q: How can ADHD individuals be leveraged in creative settings?

Because ADHD individuals are non-linear thinkers, they can bring a unique perspective to brainstorming sessions and creative projects. They should be involved in blue sky thinking where innovative solutions are required. Their ability to think outside the box can contribute to finding creative and unconventional solutions.

Q: How can individuals with ADHD be catalysts within organizations?

Individuals with ADHD have a lot of energy and potential that can be tapped into by utilizing them as catalysts within the organization. They can be deployed to projects that need an extra boost or to bring enthusiasm to tasks that might otherwise be tedious. Additionally, their ability to hyper-focus can be harnessed on projects they are passionate about, resulting in fast turnarounds and exceptional results.


Managing someone with ADHD requires embracing the four C's: coaching, clarity, creativity, and catalyst. Coaching involves investing time and effort to help individuals with ADHD improve their skills. Providing clarity in terms of expectations and deadlines is crucial. Leveraging their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking can bring unique perspectives to business challenges. Lastly, using ADHD individuals as catalysts within organizations can maximize their potential and energy. These principles not only benefit individuals with ADHD but can also be applied as effective management strategies more broadly.

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