This post is part of the “Thoughts about time” series

  1. Stop pushing the river
  2. A simple way to save time: trust people
  3. Why some people and organizations almost always have time for everything
  4. The secret ingredient in actions that get outstanding results

Another simple approach to saving untold amounts of time

Do you need to save time and money? Do you want to lower costs and increase productivity? Do you face problems of getting enough done, even though you work long hours on a regular basis?

Would you like to know how to do this within the normal working day — and with no budget cuts, no lay-offs, no outsourcing, no forced savings?

Cut out waiting time.

How do you do this?

Act like a true leader, stand aside, and let people to do what they’re paid for.

Even in our frantic, rushed and frenetic organizations, people spend an inordinate amount of time simply waiting.

  • Waiting for information from others.
  • Waiting for the paperwork.
  • Waiting for someone to make a decision.
  • Waiting for permission.
  • Waiting for agreement.
  • Waiting for certainty.

The old military wisecrack that the order of the day is “hurry up and wait” has rarely been nearer the truth.

While managers nag

Bosses wait for their people to “get it” and start doing what they want. They nit-pick and micro-manage, in a vain attempt to get things to happen as they want.

Wouldn’t it be quicker and easier to start a conversation and find the real cause of any problem? Wouldn’t it be simpler to trust people to get on with what needs to be done, instead of over-burdening yourself with details and forcing them to keep stopping and waiting until you have time to tell them to take the obvious next step?

Team members wait for others to take the lead, in case they do something the boss might not like. People wait to see what the boss will say or do, because today’s macho managers cultivate the impression that only they can make decisions correctly. Those with urgent needs are told to wait until the new budget (why let your accounting package run the business?). Everyone waits to see what will happen next (why not make something happen now?).

When times are uncertain, or when petty tyrants take charge, waiting increases dramatically. If you’re not sure, or fear the results of getting it wrong, what do you do? You wait. And you make others wait too. Maybe even customers, who may decide they won’t wait — and take their business elsewhere.

How much time is wasted around you by people who are forced to keep stopping and waiting? How much time and money could your organization save if it instituted just these changes?

  • Management trusted people and let them make more of their own decisions.
  • Management worked to make it less and less necessary to ask for permission before taking action.
  • Management made sure everyone everyone was clear about what to do — and knew they would be trusted to do it without waiting to check with someone else.
  • Management cut out all needless paperwork and meetings — which is probably 90% of both — and made needed information freely available to all. (Most paperwork .and even more meetings, are only there to cover someone’s ass .)

Stop wasting time with unnecessary meetings

Probably more time is wasted by meetings than anything else. Most have no point, other than to act as a means to covers someone’s butt and spread responsibility for decisions widely enough to make sure nobody has to take the rap if they go wrong.

Let’s stop pretending that consensus is needed before any and every action, merely because it’s fashionable (and politically correct). If it’s someone’s job to deal with a particular area, let them get on with it, without having to stop and check with everyone else in a meeting first. If they need to make others aware of what they intend to do, let them pick up the phone. If they want ideas, let them ask for them from those they believe might have something useful to contribute.

And if they are afraid to make a decision without asking Tom, Dick, Harriet, Mary Lou, Jose, Gertie, and Franz first — and covering their butts by claiming it was a team decision — maybe you should gently encourage them find employment elsewhere in a job that demands less courage and acceptance of responsibility.

Eradicate useless waiting wherever it exists

Waiting time is nearly always wasted time. If waiting is inevitable, at least encourage people to use it productively by reading, thinking or just noodling around with a creative idea. Put yourself in the forefront of the “eradicate waiting” movement.

People hurry too much today. Why? Because work is like a series of mad dashes, interspersed with long periods doing nothing. If it proceeded at a steadier pace, there would be no need for so much haste and more time to think constructively.

If all the wasted time were available for productive activity, there would be more than enough time for everything within a normal working day. Much of the reason for excessive hours comes from the amount of time that is wasted, or blocked off, by pointless activities.

If managers hound people to do it yesterday, then keep them waiting on something you should have done, how do you think they feel?

Quite right — only with several more expletives.

(3 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
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