Time & Money!
“Time and Money!” is chanted as the reason for everything. “If I only had more time and more money, then I could…” But that is entirely the point, isn’t it? You don’t have unlimited time, nor do you have an unlimited supply of money. So what is it you really need more of? Energy and ingenuity are two sought-after virtues. Efficiency and productivity are another two valuable commodities. Quantity and quality comprise an excellent set. Any and all of these are worthwhile goals and operating patterns to be worked into your business or enterprise. The best approach for maximizing time is to look and act within an expansive framework without neglecting the details. Maximal utilization of time is a combination of knowledge, efficiency, ingenuity, organization, wisdom, and a solid foundation. But I’d be remiss to leave you with too many abstract thoughts. Here is a more detailed breakdown for the CEO or anyone who wants to get more done:
Time & Motion
Time and motion are innately intertwined! They can also be inanely intertwined! And insanely intertwined! People went from horses and buggies, to trains and cars, to airplanes and rocket ships in order to get more movement in less and less time. Maximum time however does not necessarily mean more motion. A mechanic who has to run to the hardware store twelve times (when only one would be necessary) to fix an engine is not an efficient mechanic. A store clerk who doesn’t stock the shelves and must disappear to the stockroom for every customer is not an efficient store clerk. Huge amounts of time and motion are thus wasted.
An Excellent Example
An excellent example of proper utilization of time and motion: A chef! Go to a fine restaurant where you can see into the kitchen. Some are open or have windows. I was once standing in the back hallway of the Musso & Frank Grill, a restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard which has been in operation since 1919. A popular spot for the rich and famous over the decades, it generally flies under the radar of the paparazzi. I was in the hallway and couldn’t help but notice the level of efficiency of their top-flight chefs. One in particular worked at an unbelievable pace. He had everything he could possibly need at arm’s reach. He might go to the walk-in cooler for something, but otherwise he had his utensils, knives, cutting boards, spices, oils, vinegars, sauces, pots, pans, and all his ingredients right there. And he knew how to use everything with utmost speed and precision. This was a consummate professional. I really think this man could have cooked me a five-star meal while blindfolded!
Just getting people to move will yield more time and productivity. Many people tend to move slowly and need an extra push. You can be very positive about it. Only a few will snap back at you if you try to get them to work faster. Most will easily respond to positive motivation. But remember that speed does not mean running around and not getting anything done! Speed, efficiency and productivity work together.
Want to reduce your output and get less and less done? Do all your work twice. Start a job, drop it, then go back and pick it up later, doing most of the work all over again. If you START something, FINISH it! Promote this idea across every department in your company and you’ll see a marked improvement. A tremendous amount of time and motion is wasted by the number of incomplete tasks left strewn about a place of business. You can also apply this to your personal life.
Ever issue a directive and never hear back whether it was done, not done, or anything for that matter? You will lose a lot of time and expend a lot of effort every time this happens. You either forget about it yourself or you spend more and more time trying to find out what happened. Ideally, when someone reports back, they are reporting that “It is done!” The person who reports back each time that it’s done – and who’s telling the truth – should be up for promotion soon. In your place of business, cultivate the practice of reporting back, preferably the “It is done!” variety of report.
Communication = Flow
Communication should flow freely, not jam or disperse all over creation. There are two major varieties of communication or memo in a business: Those that are for a specific person or department relating to their specialty, and those of broad concern to the whole team. Both are important, but each member of the team should possess a strong concept of these two communication types. When one receives a communication or memo, one should know if it is for general knowledge or immediate action. A lack of proper communication will result in people who don’t know what’s going on. Too much irrelevant communication will glut a department or a whole company. The answer is a balance and a flow.
To get a proper perspective, step outside and look in. You can be so immersed in something that you can’t see the bigger picture. You see into next week, but not the next year. You see to the end of the block and not past the city limits. Ingenuity requires a bigger, broader, expanded look. It may require someone looking at a situation who is not tangled up in it, i.e. an “exterior” viewpoint. You can also do it yourself, but you’ve got to take that step outside. This is often the point from which brilliant ideas are developed.
Another Excellent Example
Take the idea of the assembly line. Before the assembly line, manufacturing was done majorly by hand. Quality was generally good, but quantity lacked. Enter the Ford Motor Company. On December 1st, 1913, the Ford Model T assembly line began production. How long do you think it took to produce a Model T? Ninety-three minutes. The line was refined until a new Ford came off the line every three minutes. Now this was 1913 and it was literally a revolution. Nowadays cars are more sophisticated computerized machines and assembly lines have more and more robots, but the basic concept is the same. This is an example of ingenuity and its results in terms of efficiency and productivity.
In a small and efficient team, everyone does everything. Or so it seems. When you break it down, each person does a lot of things but they all do SPECIFIC things. And each person knows what the other person is doing. In other words, they are in coordination and alignment and they don’t step all over each other’s fingers and toes. In a large organization, someone may do only a few things. A driver may simply drive people and things around, keep a schedule and take care of the vehicle. He specializes. If he goes into the marketing department and starts telling people what to do, they’ll look at him like he is crazy. But there are much more subtle versions of this that people do not notice. Tasks that need to be done don’t get done because they aren’t on anyone’s job description. They fall between chairs. You take something to one guy who says it’s another guy’s job, and the second guy says it’s really the first guy’s job. Two people work for days on the same project totally isolated from one another, only to discover later that neither one did it right. The possibilities are limitless.
The solution is in the structure of your organization itself. Each function that should be done must fall under someone’s responsibility, and functions should not unnecessarily cross. The functions and duties of each job and department must be clearly delineated. Each person should know their job and know who is responsible for what. It takes know-how and diligence to work this out properly, and it takes being conscientious and alert. Start by laying out your organization and all its standard functions, positions and departments in two-dimensional form and build from there. You can get pretty sophisticated, but start with the basics. When proper organizational structure is worked out and exercised in the real world, the rewards are substantial and unlimited.
When someone wants to propose something, the proposal should contain the situation, all the pertinent data, and a solution. You should be able to look at the proposal and either approve or disapprove it. Endless back and forth will not help you maximize your time. When proposals are complete and factual, your time is spared. But not only that, people know that if they do their homework, they can get projects approved that help the team. Everyone wins.
From Ideal to Real
Look at one of your departments or your entire company. What would be ideal? Write it down with some pertinent details, not the minutia (that comes later), but an outline that states clearly what you’re aiming for. Use your imagination. This is your vision, what you want to see in the future. From the vision you work it back. You work out what is ideal and then what would have to happen in the real world to bring that about. This is one way to overcome narrow-mindedness. Let your creativity and imagination run rampant and you may find out that it is actually doable. Let your team in on it and invite their input. When you’ve formulated your vision, when you have a clear destination, a sound plan and the drive to get there, time and motion work more in your favor. Good luck! Over to you!