How much time is money?

If money is the fuel of a company according to Simon Sinek, time is the heat released from its combustion. This heat can be effectively used to move the wheels or it can also be dissipated in the air. Considering all the distractions that can arise in the workplace, managing time has become a challenging task. Nevertheless, many organizations care much more about managing capitals procedures than building hacks to deal with time more effectively.

In two previous publications in this blog dealing with the flow state of mind and deep work, one can note that attention is a critical parameter for ensuring job satisfaction and wellbeing in the workplace. On the other hand, this capacity to focus is linked to the efficiency of time management in the organization. As Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, once wrote, “Just as you would not permit a fellow employee to steal a piece of office equipments, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with the time of his fellow managers.”

In a paper published in the Harvard Business Review by Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm and Gregory Caimi, titled “Your scarcest resource”, the authors point out 8 good habits to manage organizational time.

Make agendas clear
One of the critical asset of a good manager is the ability to select and separate the urgent from the merely important and Identify which activities are critical to success.

Shorten the meetings list
One decision was taken in Ford in 2006, the long list of meetings was shortened and replaced by a weekly session called the business plan reviews in order to maximize output per minute of meeting time. These sessions also accelerate the pace of the decision making.

Prioritize clear objectives
Gary Goldberg the former CEO of Newmont Mining for example gained control by decreasing 87 initiatives across the company, each one demanding time and attention to the executives. Many of the chosen initiatives were devoted to improve mine safety or increase operational efficiency over more questionable projects.

Simplify the organization
The more management layers between the CEO and the frontline workers, the slower the flow and decision making. As Elon Musk wrote in an email in Tesla Cars “Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command.’ Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.

Clearly delegate authority for time investment
Since most companies place few restrictions on who can organize a meeting, how long the session should be and who should attend, the result is time-consuming meetings scheduled without scrutiny.

Standardize the decision process
In many organizations decision rights and processes are poorly defined, consequently, more time and effort is devoted to managing the matrix than to decision making. In such cases, establishing an organizational wide approach to decision making can greatly improve efficiency and spare time for other purposes.

Establish organization wired time discipline
Eliminating all meeting is impossible, since they are essential for fostering collaboration and making critical decision. Nonetheless, few simple hacks can improve the quality of the meeting such as making agendas with clear objectives, advance preparation and prevent the loss of time, if the meeting is no longer “audible” to use Steve jobs word.

Provide feedback to manage organizational load
Few organizations track the load due to meeting time, meeting attendance and email volume. Without monitoring, it is hard to manage those factors and to assess the impact of those behaviors on productivity.