A friend of mine owns a high-end Italian restaurant, which has delighted customers for decades. He’s an astute business owner, and manages the food quality, staff, and inventory with exquisite precision. Now imagine what would happen to his profits if the kitchen crew just randomly dropped 25% of their high-quality ingredients on the floor. Wasted prime meat and lobster tail. Handmade pasta tossed in the garbage.
In the physical world, this type of waste is easy to spot and simple to correct. Yet for those of us in tech, services, and other knowledge fields, we spill our resources on the floor with stunning regularity.
When you waste time on re-do’s that could have been done right the first time, you are stinking up your bottom line like rotting Chilean sea bass. When your eight-person staff meeting starts 17 minutes late, you’ve just blown 136 collective minutes of productivity.
Think about all the things you let drop on your own shop room floor. Time wasted on low-value tasks, prettying up reports that no one will read, updating Facebook 1100 times per day. That 90-minute lunch with a colleague from four years ago that is pleasant but ultimately unproductive. We’re all looking to grow our companies and careers, yet we often fail to snag that extra 25% that’s easily within our reach.
My restaurateur friend would undoubtedly fire a chef who wastefully tossed valuable merchandise on the floor. Yet in our teams, we often accept abundant sloppiness with time – the most precious asset of all.
Think about the boost your company would enjoy by increasing your workforce by 25%. For free. That gain is yours to grab if you take the time to help optimize your team’s efforts. It starts by clearly identifying the things that are highest value and lowest value and then quickly crafting two critical lists: the keep-doing list and the stop-doing list. Simply taking inventory of both the value boosters and the time wasters and then keeping them top of mind will allow you to work the clock instead of the clock working you.
Start thinking about your time as my friend thinks about his free-range chicken, and you’ll soon savor some especially tasty business results. When you make it a permanent habit, the outcome will be so strong you’ll want to order a second glass of wine to celebrate. Maybe even a third.