Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers                                                                         ...
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In management and business, time is everywhere. Everything happens over time, so time could be seen as the essential element of all change. We all know what time is, but if someone asked us to define time, we would be hard pressed. Even though time is something hard to define, it is critically important to every organization. Creating the right time culture is something we all need to think about. This article reviews the origins of our current concepts of time, how views of time can be different and provide some insights into how we could manage time better by looking at an unlikely source of inspiration: A study on time and the Lakota Indians.

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Lessons from the Lakota: Time lessons for today’s managers In

  1. 1. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 1 BEST PRACTICE Lessons from the Lakota: Time lessons for today’s managers In management and business, time is everywhere. Everything happens over time, so time could be seen as the essential element of all change. We all know what time is, but if someone asked us to define time, we would be hard pressed. Even though time is something hard to define, it is critically important to every organization. Creating the right time culture is something we all need to think about. This article reviews the origins of our current concepts of time, how views of time can be different and provide some insights into how we could manage time better by looking at an unlikely source of inspiration: A study on time and the Lakota Indians. by Bryan Cassady (KU Leuven)What is time? Culture codesWe all talk about time, but do we know what time is? This questionhas been asked by philosophers, scientists and business people for As any manager knows, what in unsaid is often more important thanyears. Perhaps the best and most succinct answer comes from St what is said. There might be talk about the importance of familyAugustine. When asked the simple question: What is time? He values at work, but if the company culture says you need to work ananswered: “If no one asks me, I know; but if any Person should 80 hour week to succeed, there won’t be many managers leavingrequire me to tell him, I cannot”1. early in the afternoon to watch their kids play baseball.A standard dictionary definition doesn’t help. Webster’s definition of As human beings we attach meaning to everything. How we dress,time is: the measured or measurable period during which an action, talk and work is driven by the meanings we attach to different thingsprocess, or condition exists or continues2. Perhaps time cannot be in our world. In business we tend to simply ask why and expect adefined, but described. reasonable answer. The problem is we often don’t know why we do things and the explanations we give are often little more than post • Time is: Nature’s way of keeping everything from rationalizations of things we can’t really explain. happening all at once. As an international manager looking to understand my colleagues, I • Time is: An imaginary term created by the rich and felt I hit gold when I found the book “Cultural Codes” by Clotaire powerful to limit your activity Rapaille. He argues and shows how we acquire a silent system of codes as we grow up and work. These codes invisibly shape how • Time is: Enjoyed when it’s your own and often wasted by we behave, even when we are completely unaware of our motives. other people He answers questions like: Why do Americans like big cars (he • Time is: A measurement of life created by human beings to links it to our first sexual experiences) Why are Americans so keep a standard in their lives3 focused on work (he says it goes back to the challenges faced when the country was created)5.Even if we can’t define time, most business people would agree timeis important, time is something that moves in one direction, time is an More important than the insights in his book was a realization thatuncontrollable fact of life4. In this article we’ll see that time is less of as a manager I could learn a lot from the work of sociologists anda constant and more something we create together. anthropologists. Instead of looking at what we do and why we say we do it, we need to look at the invisible to really understand whatAt a country level, company level, department level and in the is happening.smallest units of business life we create time cultures and definitionsof time. How we do this defines us and our organizations. Our For those of you familiar with Shein and his work on organizationconcepts of time determine how we work, when we work and often culture this is nothing new. For me it was an eye openinghow effectively we work. revelation. After reading the “Culture Code”, a colleague suggested Shein’s book “Organizational Culture and Leadership”. SheinGiven the importance of time in organizations, I believe we need to describes organizational culture as the set of shared, taken-for-start thinking about time, and what it means. If we want to manage granted implicit assumptions that a group holds and that determineseffectively, we need to think about how time is defined in our how it perceives, thinks about, and reacts to its variousorganizations. environments. Norms become a fairly visible manifestation of theseIn this article I will argue: the current view of time in most assumptions, but it is important to remember that behind the normsorganizations is the same as the one created back at the start of the lie deeper, taken-for-granted sets of assumptions that most membersindustrial revolution. We view time as money, and our ability to of a culture never question or examine. The members of a culturecontrol time as critical to business success. It is important to are not even aware of their own culture until they encounter aremember, the nature of work has changed since the time of the different one.6industrial revolution. In this context, we need to take another look at To understand our organizations we need to look at other ones.our time culture and make sure we have the right ones for our When we understand other cultures we have a different set oforganizations. glasses we can use to understand our own.Together we’ll find some answers in some unlikely places.
  2. 2. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 2When most of us think about Indians and Indian culture it is not theplace we’d look for inspiration for new management techniques. Iwould like to surprise you. Before talking about what I have learnedfrom the Lakota, I would like to show how there are many different Different concepts of timeconcepts of time and go through the historical origins of our currenttime culture. Arrow time: In the West when we think about time, time is like anConcepts of time arrow. It started someplace and continues to move in the same direction.Time exists, but we create the social context that gives it meaning. Inthe language of anthropologists we could say time is sociallyconstructed. Time does not exist outside the events, time is in theevents7. Events and the meaning of events are defined by the groupsand organizations we belong to. This means there are as many Cyclical time:different types of time and perceptions of time as there are groups In much of Africa, time is viewed as cyclical. The pastand organizations. If times differ, the big questions are (1) How do and present live side by side in their daily lives.they differ? (2)How much do they differ? (3) How do they come todiffer?” 8 (4) Equally important, should we do anything about it?It is tempting to say we all have our own view of time which fits ourneeds. But the reality is probably a bit more complex. Time, likelanguage, is a frame through which we perceive the world. It is aconcept built through experience. In studies of language it has beenshown that without words, conceptual thought doesn’t evolve. Giventhe importance of time in our lives, it is clear our view of the world Circular time:can not exist without some concept of time. How different people canview time might surprise you. Among many religious groups, including the Hindu, time is a never ending circle.Arrow time vs. cyclical time. In the west we tend think of time likean arrow. Time started someplace and continues to move in the samedirection. In Africa and Asia, time is seen as cyclical. Perhaps themost extreme example are the Hindu that believe in reincarnation. Ifone views time as cyclical, one will be much less affected by any oneincident. This can be seen in the way many Hindu and Americansreact differently to time pressure. Americans tend to be frazzled atwork, hurrying to get things done; convinced they have no time towaste. In contrast, the Hindu are much less concerned about the paceof work, because they do not perceive their lives as finite9.Monochronic vs. Polychronic time: Do you like to do one thing at a Patchwork time:time or many things at a once? Chances are your answer reflects inlarge part your cultural background. In the US and Northern Europe Among African tribes like the Hopi, there is nopeople tend to prefer doing one thing at a time. This is called beginning and no end of time. The past and presentmonochronic time. People that grew up in these cultures tend to say coexist. In their language there are not even past anda good manager is a person that can do one thing at a time. They will future tenses of verbs.praise individuals able to focus and check things off their "to do list".Other people, usually characterized as the “Mediterraneans”, like todo many things at once. A person focusing on one-thing-at-a-timewould be seen as inflexible. In their view, a good manager is notsomeone inflexible10.In the business world this means American managers, accustomed tofairly rigid schedules and traditional time management (monochronicorientations), are often psychologically stressed when they visitcountries where others do not share their view of time11. Time can be many different things. A lot depends on theTask time vs. clock time Perhaps the most important concept of time cultural context.in the business world is the difference between task time and clocktime. In task time, the activity itself defines the pace, incidence and Adapted from: Time, contributions from the socialintensity of work. 12 Little attention is paid to the clock. Some people sciences. Poole, Barbara S., Financial Services Review,call this ‘time in the zone’. This is a moment where results flow 10570810, Winter2000, Vol. 9.naturally with little concern for the passage of time.In contrast to task time is clock time. Clock time is how mostbusinesses are managed. We expect people to be in the office at a There are many concepts of time, including the famous New Yorkspecific time and put in the hours. As we’ll see, clock time is a minute. Some would say “...that there are as many different kinds ofproduct of the industrial revolution. Created to ensure assembly line time as there are human beings on this earth....”13coordination and used as a proxy for worker contribution. Concepts of time are important because it changes how we look at things and how we do the things we do. Time imposes a social
  3. 3. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 3order. How things are handled in time, conveys status and intention. organizations of the industrial revolution being able to display suchThe pacing of events, the rhythms of life, the sequence in which high levels of functional specialization.”19things are done, and the duration of events are all subject to our viewsof time14. Why do we say time is money? In a world where people are paid by the time they work, timeSome would disagree that time is different for everyone, but it is easy became money. Where people are paid based on time, managementto see how in our organizations the smallest work groups can deal and workers tend focus on time instead of results as the basis ofwith time in very different ways. Some groups (people) doing the their working agreement.same work seem to always be stressed while others show a quietintensity and get the work done that needs to be done. Today, work is different. In the Industrial Age, workers were paid by the hour for a certain amount of production. If you worked 8 hours, you were expected to produce twice as much as if youA history of time and time management worked 4 hours. And it made sense. It was based on a mathematicalBefore the clock, time was measured by changes in the seasons and equation consisting of time and rates of production. Productivityevents in our daily life. Today, we don’t need to look too far to find was tied to time.these concepts of time. For example, in Madagascar people still talk But what about today’s Knowledge Workers? If we spend 8 hoursabout rice cooking time (about a half hour) and frying of a locust thinking up new innovative ideas will we have twice as many as iftime (around a minute) 15.. we’d spent 4 hours? Or maybe we’d have the same number of ideasThe first accurate clocks were developed in the 1700s before the but they’d be twice as good? The answer is obviously no to bothindustrial revolution. At this time a clock was a luxury. In Britain, questions. In an ideal world, Knowledge Workers are paid totaxes were even levied on the number of clocks in a household. A achieve a certain result whether it takes 4 hours or 400 hours.20clock was seen as a sign on conspicuous wealth that ought to be In the industrial age, work was time critical. Now work is contenttaxed. In this era, a watch was a huge investment; a good watch could critical. At the turn of the century we wanted people to do one thingcost as much as an average man would earn in 6 months. again and again, now we need people to answer emails, keep trackThis changed with the industrial revolution. Watches and clocks of business events, type their own memos and deliver results all atstarted to be mass produced. People had clocks at work and at home – the same time. When a factory worker left work, his day was over.measured time became a part of people’s lives. Before the industrial Now almost everyone carries a mobile phone, and rare is therevolution, families worked together from dawn until dusk, executive that never works at home. We don’t really need moreintermingling work and family responsibilities, subject to the time from our people, we need more results. To get better results,particular demands of the day. In the pre-industrial era, we need to stop thinking of time as if all our workers are down onbusinesspeople and craftsmen were nearly all self employed, working the factory floor.in their own homes with their tools, setting their own hours16. Unfortunately, in practice we still tend to measure productivity byAs workers entered the factories, their efforts needed to be time spent. Managers find they cannot easily or directly measurecoordinated. It was difficult to measure individual output, so workers work output or the involvement of knowledge workers, so they turnwere paid by the hour or day. The omnipresence of the factory clock to work hours as an indicator of both productivity and commitment.brought with it the idea that one is exchanging time rather than skill: Moreover, managers recognize that knowledge work is bothselling labor-time rather than labor. 17 Workers also lost control over interdependent and open-ended and that those they manage oftenthe time they chose to work. The clock became king. It controlled need each other to complete their work on time. Managers thereforenot only activities at work but how much time was spent working.18 assume it is best for everyone to be present as much of the time as possible and judge knowledge workers accordingly. As a result, theIt is hard to underestimate the impact the clock has had on the managerially valued knowledge worker in today’s world needs toeconomy. Some people argue that is was the clock not the steam show total devotion to work. The grueling schedules that used to beengine that was the key machine of the industrial age. The argument typical only of top corporate management and self-employed peopleis: “Rapid developments in synchronization were responsible for are becoming common in one occupation after another. CorporateCan time be changed?Time can be changed; here are a few historical examples of time changesFrance: A 10 day weekIn 1793, the new ruling assembly in France introduced a revolutionary calendar that changed the number of days in a week from 7 to 10. Thenew calendar was created to embody the new values of secularity and rationality. It was meant to mark a change from an “’an old age ofignorance’’ to ‘’ a new age of reason’’. Initially people found the changes difficult. But over time they became accustomed to the change. Thissystem remained in place until 1805, when there was reconciliation between Napoleon and the church. If there had been no change Francemight still have a 10 day week. Incidentally, in Russia weeks were changed from 7 days to 6 days for almost 40 years.1Kelloggs: a 30 hour work weekInspired by reports that a six-hour shift increased productivity at an English soap company, Kellogg Co. founder W.K. Kellogg changed cereal-plant production schedules from three eight-hour shifts to four six-hour shifts in 1930. The company found that the shorter workday influencedemployees to work harder and more efficiently. The results included drastic reductions in overhead costs, labor costs, and the number of work-related accidents. Unit cost of production “is so lowered we can afford to pay as much for six hours as we formerly paid for eight,” Kelloggboasted in a newspaper in 1935.21. Zerubauel, E. (1981). Hidden rhythms: Schedules and calendars in social life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.2. Six-Hour Shifts Satisfied Kelloggs Appetite For Productivity: http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20020405S0002
  4. 4. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 4lawyers, investment bankers, computer programmers, and many other stated goal was to “transform task orientated nomads into willingprofessionals are now expected to work seventy- or eighty-hour wage workers of the future “26.weeks routinely, with extra effort during particularly hectic times.21 2223. Today’s always on, always in, always working mentality, can be As modern manager, we’d have every reason to believe theseseen in the way many organizations would answer some simple changes would increase productivity. They did over the short term,questions. and the standard of living increased. What also happened was the creation of a 2 time culture. There was clock time at work, and task Question. How does the organization know managers are doing time at home. their jobs and that they are making the best possible decisions? On the downside, there was a shift away from getting things done to Answer: Because they are spending every moment at it and thus counting hours. People today still talk about Lakota time vs. white working to the limits of human possibility. time: “Being Lakota, I like the way we’ve always done things. In the Question: When has a manager finished the job? Lakota way you could work… every day, and in the end, we had something that belongs to us. In the white way, you have Answer: Never. Or at least, hardly ever. There is always to work for everything, but you get just a little back. Like they something more that could be done.”24 have a time schedule. In the Lakota way, we go by our own time, but it gets done.” 27In an age of burnout, falling productivity and declining worker moraldo we really want to stay married to measuring results by the clock? Over time, work lost its meaning for many people and productivityChances are you’ll say you don’t see another way. If changes in our fell. Worse yet, is the impact these changes had and continue toview of time happened due to economic need, there is no reason to have on the informal way of getting things done. Working on thebelieve, we can’t change again. clock, people started to leave at 5 regardless of whether their work was done. Pressured to get more done in less time, time for socialTo show how time cultures can be changed and the impact of some of contact was less available. Before, things got done when theythese changes, I would like to share the experience of the Lakota needed to be done, now things didn’t get finished and people feltIndians. stressed by the deadlines. This is the same problem managers around the world face everyThe Lakota Experience day. i.e. What is the best way to get things done in my organization?The Lakota Indians are a small Indian tribe from the regions of South Companies and organizations on the reservation have dealt withDakota and western Minnesota. The word Lakota means “considered these issues in different ways. In virtually every organization theyfriends” or “alliance of friends”. Crazy Horse is probably the most keep track of the time employees are at work, but some havefamous Lakota Indian. As some of you know, he was one of the realized the “ old ways’’ of managing time could be brought back.chiefs that defeated Custer at little bighorn. As a group, the Lakota In these organizations, workers and management agree on whatare proud and committed to building their community. needs to be done and employees are given the freedom to do it onOur story of the Lakota starts and ends with a series of lessons for their own time schedule. Task time is being revived and “wastedmodern day managers. We will see how working by the clock can time” for social interactions encouraged. These companies arehurt productivity, and worker satisfaction. finding it easier to recruit and retain employees and productivity is going up.At the turn of the century life on the Lakota reservation was far fromprosperous, but not uncomfortable. The time culture could be best What they have learned, is how to rebuild a time culture. For thedescribed as polychronic, task orientated. People did many things at Lakota, the right time culture is probably less strict and moreonce, but didn’t pay much attention to the clock. Work got done informal than what would work in your organization. The barrierswhen it needed to be done. There was no artificial time line or between work and home time are weak to non-existent. The lengthmoment in the day separating work time and home time; they seemed of the workdays expand and contract depending on the tasks atto flow in and out of one another. The Lakota view of time was hand. Work happens where the people are, rather that in ansimple. “Time was never a specific minute, but rather spaces of time, exclusive setting designated as the “work place’’28. With a betterlike early morning, just afternoon or just before midnight. The real balance between work and life, economic opportunities are beingmeaning of time could be summed up by the phrase “nake nula waun built on improved social contacts. People are feeling more pride inyelo’’ loosely translated it means: their work and getting more done than when all their efforts were being measured by the clock. “I am ready for whatever, any place, any time, Looking at the Lakota experience, we can gain insights into always prepared’’. solutions that might work in other groups/organizations. BeforeWhen work needed to be done, people were prepared to work late in drawing conclusions, let’s look at what we know about time, andthe fields or stay up until 3 am to finish goods to be sold at market. quickly review some other case studies showing how time culturesWhen no work needed to be done, they didn’t work. have been changed in other organizations.Policy makers saw an opportunity to improve things by installing a As we move forward, the important questions that need to bewestern time ethic and a respect for the clock. This viewpoint is clear answered are:in a policy note written in the early 20s. “No government employeeshould encourage the Indians to continue their old time customs… it 1. What do we really know about time?is the duty of all employees to encourage the Indians to take up the 2. Can time cultures be changed?customs and practices of the lives of civilized people “25. Subsidieswere introduced to encourage the transformation of existing 3. If they can, what should you do?businesses and creation of new businesses run by the clock. Insteadof being paid for the work done, workers started to be paid for theirhours worked. Children were targeted with education programs. The
  5. 5. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 5What do we know about time? Research has shown as deadlines shorten, goal difficulty increases, which subsequently increases performance. However, this timeIn the business world there isn’t a single book about time, but in the pressure relationship only holds for low to mild levels. Whensocial science a lot has been learned. (Note: Time culture is different looking at a full range of tasks, the overall relationship betweenthan time management. Bookshops are filled with books on time deadline length and performance is more complex. Performancemanagement.) What follows is a broad summary of research increases as deadlines shorten, but beyond some limit increasedpresented in hundreds of books and articles. This summary is not deadline pressure reduces rather than increase performance.35exhaustive, but meant to show how important time cultures are in our The impact of deadlines on performancework lives. PerformanceTime is subjective: There is the old expression. “Time flies whenyou are having fun”. In the western world time is typically viewed as Flexible deadlinelinear and constant. Recent research has shown time is not reallyconstant. In time research, the constant aspect of time has been calledthe “filled duration’’. Filled durations are those times where theindividual is occupied or active. The lengths of these times areestimated as longer when compared to empty durations. A disliked or Tight deadlineempty activity such as waiting in line is usually found to take longer.Things we like to do go quicker29. Forcing employees to put in the Task complexitytime when nothing needs to be done is a sure way to hurt motivation. Low Very HighIt will also make their days seem longer. As managers, we need to be careful with the goals we set. AlwaysStopping time: Researchers have looked at how top performers “stop on, always under stress employees will either start to ignore goals ortime” when they need to. Top level tennis players talk about how wither under the stress. Imagine for a minute you are the owner of athey can see the lines on a ball during a critical point. In a fascinating prize race horse. Would you run him as hard as you could everydaystudy of people in high stress jobs like fireman and fighter pilots, or would let him save some energy for the big and important races?these people often talked about how “time stood still’’ at critical Even your top employees need some ‘’down-time’’ to be able totimes. With time frozen, they considered large amounts of perform when you need them to perform.information and selected among alternatives30. In my work withleading advertising agencies I have seen people take off their watches Flexible time and hours can build productivity, but be careful.when a big creative project needs to get done. When I asked why, Research has shown employees are willing to exert extra effort inthey said they didn’t want their thinking to be interrupted by the exchange for flexible time. In a large Pharmaceutical industry studypassage of time. In their own way they were stopping time to get it was shown flex time increased productivity by 10%36 and similartheir work done. In our daily work lives we need to look at ways we results have been found in other industries. Yet, the use of flex timecan prevent the passage of time from getting in the way of the work is actually falling. Why: the benefits are often short lived. Flex timewe need to get done. changes from a solution to real issues, to an entitlement37.We need time to learn and make good decisions: To make good It is my personal opinion that any large scale move to flex time isdecisions, we need to take time to reflect on past decisions, and think doomed to fail over the long run. As flex time becomes anconceptually when making future decisions. If we’re under the gun entitlement, the extra effort employees will contribute will decline.all the time this becomes impossible. Without time we don’t learn At the same time, the number of issues caused by reduced employeefrom the past and we are left making the same bad decisions over and interaction will increase. It is important to remember that the sumover again. In her book, learning from “Experience through of individual productivity is not the same as the group orReflection” Marilyn Wood clearly shows we need time to think and organizations results. A group of highly effective individuals is notreflect. For her, the right process is 4 steps (1) articulation of a the same as an effective team. In work with clients, I recommendproblem; (2) analysis of the problem; (3) formulation and testing of a allocating task and clock time based on level in the organization,tentative theory to solve the problem; and (4) final test of the type of work being performed and past performance.hypothesis31. Additional research has shown that for learning to takeplace individuals must reflect on prior experiences, build on positive Allocating clock time and task timefeelings, deal with negative feelings and re-evaluate based on those Level of responsibilityreflections32. Some business legends such as Fidelity manager, Peter clock time task timeLynch, have suggested their employees need to slow down so theycan make rational decisions. 33 Low MiddleThe business lesson is simple. If we want good decisions, we Highsometimes need to take time to make them.Time pressure and deadlines can be good and bad. Under stress Complexity of workpeople often think faster and come up with creative solutions. There Lowis ample research which confirms Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands Middleand contracts to fill the time available.” By changing time horizons Highwe can change the perceptions of time available and the intensity ofwork done. Past PerformanceWhen tasks are simple, deadlines can help. Clear time driven High More task timeobjectives can build clarity. Deadlines can motivate individuals by Low More clock timeproviding direction, and stimulate persistent effort. 34 What does notwork is unrealistic deadlines and too much time pressure whenpeople are trying to do something difficult.
  6. 6. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 6Fragmentation and the rise of instantaneous time Anyone with a Speed is Relativemobile phone or access to email knows time isn’t what it used to be. The pace of life around the worldPeople can now work anywhere and anytime. And they often do. Thisis blurring the boundaries of work and home life. At the same time Rank of 31 countries for overall pace of life and for threedecision horizons are being compressed. Faster communication measures; minutes downtown pedestrians take to walk 60 feet;demands faster reactions, allowing less time for reflection. We areattracted to the convenience of being technologically connected in minutes it takes a postal clerk to complete a stamp-purchase‘real-time’, yet we are often overwhelmed by the increased demands transaction; and accuracy in minutes of public clocks.that come with being wired. In this respect, our ‘real-space’ isincreasingly being crowded out by the network of digital devices at overall walking postal publicour fingertips –e-mail, cell phones, voice-mails, palm pilots, and the pace 60 feet service clockInternet. Enticed by the increases in efficiency that these real-timetechnologies offer, we also tend to feel more stressed out by the Switzerland 1 3 2 1increasing demands made on our time and attention.38 Ireland 2 1 3 11Whereas telephones and fax machines reduced human response times Germany 3 5 1 8from months, weeks and days to that of seconds, advanced computer Japan 4 7 4 6technologies contracts them into nanoseconds, to even times of a Italy 5 10 12 2billionth of a second. Contemporary social and organizational England 6 4 9 13practices are based on time-frames that lie beyond conscious human Sweden 7 13 5 7experience. Time is organized at speeds beyond the feasible realm of Austria 8 23 8 3human consciousness.39 Netherlands 9 2 14 25In a world of information overload it is important not to confuse Hong Kong 10 14 6 14motion and action with results. France 11 8 18 10 Poland 12 12 15 8Thinking about the past is important in our ability to think about Costa Rica 13 16 10 15the future. In the early 80s, an important study was run with CEOs Taiwan 14 18 7 21of high tech companies. The CEOs were split into 2 groups. Half Singapore 15 25 11 4were asked to first think about events that happened in the past and United States 16 6 23 20then about events that might happen in the future. The other half wereasked to think about events in the opposite order, future first, then Canada 17 11 21 22past. Then all the CEOs were asked to indicate when in the past or South Korea 18 20 20 16the future each event occurred or would occur. Hungary 19 19 19 18 Czech Republic 20 21 17 23Paradoxically, the CEOs who thought about past events first, tended Greece 21 14 13 29to then think about events further into the future (4 years further), Kenya 22 9 30 24than the CEOs who thought about future events first. Further, China 23 24 25 12thinking about future events first did not seem to increase the lengthof time into the past that events were considered. Putting these results Bulgaria 24 27 22 17together indicates that thinking about the past was the causal element: Romania 25 30 29 5thinking about the past first is key to thinking about the future. Other Jordan 26 28 27 19studies have confirmed this relationship suggesting strongly that Syria 27 29 28 27thinking about things further into the past will lead to thinking about El Salvador 28 22 16 31things further into the future.40.41 42 43 Brazil 29 31 24 28 Indonesia 30 26 26 30If you want to get a better view of the future, the past needs to bebrought into the discussion. Mexico 31 17 31 26Time cultures are built locally. Anyone working in a large Source:organization knows different cultures emerge at local levels. We all The pace of life in 31 countries. Levine, Robertlook for meaning in the work we do and create ways to make American Demographics; Nov97, Vol. 19 Issue 11, p20, 5pmeaning. A good example of this can be found in the work done byRoy studying factory workers. He showed how workers made theirexperiences tolerable by putting meaning into their essentiallymeaningless days. In his studies workers punctuated their days with Organizations are created and sustained to do things. As change‘times’’ – each of these times was a moment for social interaction. occurs over time, time is a critical underlying aspect of allThese times went by many different names: window time, break time, organizational cultures. How time is partitioned, scheduled andcoke time and even banana time. He showed how these workgroups, used has dramatic and subtle influences on organizations and thewith the most externally determined task processes, consistently people in them. 45 3 Case studies follow that show how changes cancreated their own individual time cultures.44 be made in a company’s time culture and some of the ways these changes can change the organization.In our day to day work lives these differences are often easy to see.There are departments and even small groups in these departmentsthat have their own concepts of time. For middle managers theimplications are important. There is no need to wait for large scaleorganization change. Changes can happen in the smallest spheres ofinfluence.
  7. 7. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 7 family”—a decree that’s still talked about within Samsung. TheChanging time cultures: 3 case studies question was how to make the change. The work environment at Samsung was little different from otherTime and how it is managed is a central aspect of organizational Korean companies. Employees came in early and left late. Peopleeffectiveness. The dominant view of time in organizations today was were rewarded for putting into marathon hours regardless of thedeveloped for workers at the time of the industrial revolution. quality of their output. Realizing this was part of the problem alongChanging these cultures can change an organization. with the fact his workers were wasting countless hours in traffic jams every morning and evening, a new idea was developed. Let’sCase 1, Marriot: get workers in early and let them leave a bit earlier. Changing theChanging a culture of face time 46 time culture was identified as a tool for change.Woody Allen has been quoted as saying “80% of success is just Employees accustomed to working long hours were now asked toshowing up’’. At the Marriott corporation, showing up was a start two hours earlier at 7 am and leave exactly at 4 in theprerequisite for success. The company had a deeply ingrained culture afternoon. In the new 7-4 system, individual workers were assessedof ‘face time’ – the more hours you put in, the better. The company by how much they could achieve in a constrained period of time.was facing issues with employee moral and recruitment of new The company put a greater emphasis on the tasks accomplished, notemployees. the hours worked.The internal issue could perhaps be best summarized by the remarks Instead of carrying on working in the evening, employees wereof an employee. “I don’t mind working hard, but I also want you to pushed to finish their work by 4. In this new system, they began torecognize that I have a life outside this company”. In a study among recognize the importance of team-working in order to meetemployees, they estimated they spent 11.7 hours a week on low value deadlines. Before the 7-4 system, low level employees had to workwork. There were also lots of signs of employee burnout. A decision hard until they finished their tasks, following their manager’swas made that something needed to be done. The company wasn’t commands. It was common practice that subordinates were pressedready to sacrifice customer service, but the company needed to work to finish their duties, while their managers were waiting for the taskson the issue of face time. to be completed by their subordinates47.A new policy was created which said employees were expected to be With one change (albeit a large change) the company was able toat work when they were needed and go home when they weren’t. change its focus to quality, punctuality and teamwork. There wasThe message was “Do whatever it takes to get your job done, but be also a side benefit of better working conditions for employees.flexible in how you do it. If last week was a hellish week and there isnothing that needs to be done, take some time off to recharge your At the same time as the 7-4 system many other changes were made,batteries.” so it is hard to isolate the exact impact. What is known is the change in time culture had an important impact on the organization.Changing a culture takes more than the creation of a new policy. Since the introduction of this program, Samsung has come a longSenior managers were told they needed to be seen leaving early. And way from its humble, homely past. Samsung is now the world leaderthey were encouraged to talk about their family lives. They needed to in CDMA cell phones; it’s battling Motorola for the number-twotell stories about how great is was to leave a bit early when they spot, behind Nokia, in total handsets sold; it also tops the globalweren’t needed so they could go to a movie with their kids. markets for color televisions, flash memory, and LCD panels—key battlegrounds in its quest to one day dominate the digital era.Change didn’t happen over night, but it did happen. The number of Samsung is also the world’s most profitable tech company. 48hours people spent at work went down slightly, but there was nochange in customer complaints. There is also some evidence thechange is reducing unwanted turnover and helping bring in new hires.Some key results are summarized below: Case 3, Best Buy ROWE: Results Oriented Work Environment The impact of the Marriott face time program If you watch the news, or read the popular press, chances are you have heard about Best Buys Rowe program. ROWE stands for Pre vs. post results Results Oriented Work Environment. This program is the brainchild Pre Post of some renegades in Best Buy’s HR department. The program Time spent doing low value work (hrs) 11.7 hrs 6.8 hrs policy is easy to understand: “people are free to work wherever they Job too demanding 77% 36% want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done.” Belief hours not results count 43% 15% How it happened is a good story. I feel drained at the end of the day 73% 56% Just like Marriott. the culture was one of face time. Managers were seen judging employee performance on how much they saw them, vs. how much they did. Some saw a dangerous, life-wrecking cocktail in the making: the always-on worker now also had to beCase 2, Samsung: always in. The HR team wanted to see if a change could be made soWorking 9-9 is not the way to make a living that people focused on results instead of number of hours at the office.In the early 90’s, Samsung, was a company in trouble. Their productsweren’t selling and consumers were losing confidence in the quality The HR department introduced the ROWE program in stages.of their products. Chairman Kun-Hee Lee identified many different Stage 1: They worked hard to create effective business metrics.issues, but one he wanted to focus on was the concept of quantity at With no metrics in place, managers had little choice but tothe expense of quality. He declared: “[If we don’t change] we will judge performance based on effort.become a third-rate company. We must change no matter what.” Heimplored workers to “change everything except your wife and
  8. 8. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 8 Lessons from the Lakota and other case studies Stage 2: With metrics ready, they looked for departments that wanted to give the program a try. Once these pilots were up and Looking at the Lakota Experience, there are 4 important insights for running they worked hard to quantify the results. Importantly, modern day managers they did not tell top management. Insight 1: We need to be aware of the differences between task Stage 3: The program was expanded to other departments. time and clock time When they had enough results they presented a business case to top management. We all have both types of time in our life. In the Lakota context an imposition of clock time had a negative impact. Important thingsLooking back, part of the programs success is surely the way it was didn’t get done, work lost some of its meaning and it caused socialstarted. It began as a covert guerrilla action that spread virally and issues. Letting people focus on the work that needs to get doneeventually became a revolution. So secret was the operation that instead of the hours they spend at work is likely to improveChief Executive Brad Anderson only learned the details two years productivity. In the discussion about work among the Lakota,after it began transforming his company. Anderson believes “ROWE Marriott and Best Buy one can see task time is a bit more humanwas an idea born and nurtured by a handful of passionate and natural. We need to realize task time is important and allow it toemployees,” a large part of its success is “It wasn’t created as the flourish if we want a happy effective work forceresult of some edict.” Insight 2: In modern day society, the border between home lifeThe results of the program have been impressive and work life is fading • There are significant declines in voluntary turnover With mobile phones we can be reached anywhere anytime, via • In pre/post measurements, departments showed an average email and the internet we can (and often do) work at 2 in the increase in productivity of 35%. morning. Yet we still focus on measuring the time people spend in the office. A better solution would be a balance of clock and taskToday, all 4000 staffers in the Best Buy headquarters are on ROWE. time. Should it really matter when work gets done as long as it getsand the company is looking to expand out to the stores. done? As business manager, I would be happy to give up a bit of A test… How many things do you like to do at once How do you/ your department and organization compare ? Monochronic/Polychronic Orientation Scale Please use the following scale to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that each statement is true about 1) you 2) your department. and 3) your organization Strongly Somewhat Slightly Slightly Somewhat Strongly Disagree Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Agree Agree (I) We like to juggle several activities you 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt at the same time. depart 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt org. 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt (I) We would rather complete an you 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt entire project everyday than complete depart 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt parts of several projects. org. 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt (I) We believe people should try to do you 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt many things at once. depart 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt org. 1 pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6 pt 7 pt When (I) we work by ourselves, (I) we you 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt usually work on one project at a time. depart 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt org. 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt (I) We prefer to do one thing at a you 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt time. depart 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt org. 7 pt 6 pt 5 pt 4 pt 3 pt 2 pt 1 pt Add up the points for you, your department, and your organization, and Divide each total by 5. Then plot both the scores on the scale below. Monochronic Polychronic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 you depart org. The lower the score (below 4.0) the more monochronic your organization or department; and the higher the score, (above 4.0) the more polychronic. Adapted from: Bluedorn, A. C., Kaufman, C. F., & Lane, P. M. 1992. How many things do you like to do at once? An introduction to monochronic and polychronic time. Academy of Management Executive, 6(4): 17–26
  9. 9. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 9control if I could get employees thinking like the Lakota: ready forwhatever, any place, any time, always prepared. Like at Marriott, I I hope this discussion has helped show how each of us can createlike my employees’ batteries to be charged and ready to deal with our own time cultures. Concepts of time have been changed in theimportant business challenges. past to meet needs of the market. Today’s markets are changing again, so we can assume what time means will change again.Insight 3: In our work world we are losing the human contact.Our time culture might be part of problem. Some say the future is one of flex time, but the reality is flex time isPeople talk less and email more. In the Lakota case, a move to clock on the decline (10% down over the last 3 years). 49. Others say,time resulted in people not investing enough time in social time cultures in modern organizations need to be modeled afterrelationships. At Samsung, clock time was kept, but the focus was system like the ROWE program at Best But. Chances are you couldchanged to results delivered in a specific time. When our employees talk to 10 consultants and each would have “the solution’’ for yourare stressed for time, and unhappy at home these issues creep into the organization.workplace. If we give a bit of freedom, employees are likely to behappier with their work. Happier employees, encouraged to work The reality is there is no “one size fits all” solution. We don’t needtogether is a sure fire way to improve social contact at work. flex time, task time, arrow time or any specific type of time. As business leaders we do need to look for ways to develop the rightInsight 4: A lot of research has shown average workers feel time culture for our organizations. My guess is many of you wouldoverworked. Yet, the reality is we are not working more than we be happy with a time culture where: (1) people are given time todid before. recharge when time pressures are down, (2) employee moral is highThe issue in my opinion is a growth in polychronic time (time where and (3) and like the Lakota are ready for whatever, any time , anywe are expected to do many things at once). The key to dealing with place, always prepared.polychronic tasks is relaxing and being a bit flexible. If we want andexpect people to multi-task at work, taking some of the clock time Changes in the content of work are changing how we need topressure away would be a big help. manage. What worked when we were managing factory workers will not work for today’s knowledge workers.What now… Today’s managers need to think about the time cultures they want inThe most important take-outs of this discussion are: (1) Time is their organizations. When your employees talk with people aroundimportant and (2) you don’t need to be the CEO to make changes in the world and in companies with different views of time, their viewsyour organization’s time culture. on time will change. Change is already happening.If you want to make changes you need to realize it won’t be easy. As usual the question comes down to leading change or reacting toOur time cultures are built on the way we have been educated, and change. If you want to have time on your side, now is the time tosocialized. “Time is money” and “long hours are good’’ are so think about changing the view of time in your organization.deeply ingrained in many work cultures that change won’t comeeasy. But to change we need to understand.We need to start with an understanding of our cultural codes of time.We need to uncover the invisible, so we can question some of ourcore assumptions about time: • Is time money? Or would it be better to talk about results are money? • Is face time important? Or would you prefer to have employees ready to go when they are needed? • Many of us are stress junkies and we link a busy calendar to being effective. Are we confusing motion with results?About the Author:Bryan Cassady is a strategic business consultant. Before starting his consulting practice he set up 9 successful businesses in 8 differentcountries. As a consultant he has worked in over 20 different countries. He is currently doing research at the KU Leuven University on themulti-cultural issues of management.
  10. 10. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 10 Notes and references1 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/saint_augustine.html2 http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/time3 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=time4 Butler, Richard (1995) Time in Organizations: Its Experience, Explanations and Effects. Organization Studies (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG.), Vol. 16 Issue 6, p925, 26p5 Rapaille, Clotaire (2006) The Culture Code, Random House6 Shein (1992) Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2d ed. San Francisco:7 Clark, P (1985). A review of the theories of time and structure for organizational sociology In S.B. Bacharach & S.M. Mitchell (Eds.), Research in the Sociology of Organizations (pp. 35-79).Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.8 Bluedorn, Allen C.; Standifer, Rhetta L. (2006) Time and the Temporal Imagination. Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p196-2069 Roland Alan (1988) In Search of Self in India and Japan: Toward a Cross-Cultural Psychology. Princeton University Press10 Bluedorn, A. C., Kaufman, C. F., & Lane, P. M. (1992). How many things do you like to do at once? An introduction to monochronic and polychronic time. Academy of Management Executive, 6(4): 17–26.11 Bluedorn, A. C., & Denhardt, R. B. (1988). Time and organizations. Journal of Management, 14: 299–32012 Adam Barbara (1993). Within and beyond the time economy of employment relations: conceptual issues pertinent to research on time and work Social Science Information, Vol. 32, No. 2, 163-18413 Hall, E.T. (1983). The dance of life: The other dimension of time. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press.14 Schein E (1992) Organizational Culture and Leadership San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 199215 Thompson, E.P. (1967). Time, work-discipline and industrial capitalism. Past and Present, 38, 56-97.16 Thompson, E.P. (1967). Time, work-discipline and industrial capitalism. Past and Present, 38, 56-97.17 Hassard, John.(2001) Commodification, construction and compression: a review of time metaphors in organizational analysis: International Journal of Management Reviews, Jun2001, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p131, 10p18 Landes – (1983 )Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World DS - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press19 Mumford, L. (1934). Technics and Civilization. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.20 http://mattzee.blogspot.com/2006/04/thinking-like-knowledge-worker.html21 Perlow, Leslie A (1998) Boundary Control: The Social Ordering of Work and Family Time in a High-tech Corporation. Administrative Science Quarterly, Jun98, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p328-35822 Kidder, Tracy (1981). The Soul of a New Machine. New York: Avon Books.23 Schor, Juliet B (1991). The Overworked American. Basic Books24 Kanter, Rosabeth M. (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books. p. 6525 FARC n.d., Rosebud, C.C.F. 13979-192226 Littlewood, Alice (1993) Learning to Labor: Native American Education in the UD 1880-1930. In Political economy of North American Indians. John H. Morre, Ed... pp 43-59. Norman: University of Oklahoma press27 Interview July 3, 2001 in Pickering, K. 2004. Decolonizing Time Regimes: Lakota Conceptions of Work, Economy and Society, American Anthropologist 106(1):85-9728 Interview July 3, 2001 in Pickering, K. 2004. Decolonizing Time Regimes: Lakota Conceptions of Work, Economy and Society, American Anthropologist 106(1):85-9729 Mukerjee, R (1990). "Time Technics and Society", in Hassard, J. (Ed.), The Sociology of Time, Macmillan, Hampshire, p. 47.30 Klein, G. (1998).Sources of Power How People Make Decisions. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology31 Daudelin, Marilyn Wood, Learning from Experience through Reflection. Organizational Dynamics, Winter96, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p36-48,32 Boud David (1993) Using Experience for Learning. Open University Press,33 Koco, L. (2000, Oct. 23). Slow down, educate clients, Lynch tells NAVA. National Underwriter, 104 (43), pp.3, 46.34 Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P (1984). Goal setting for individuals, groups, and organizations. Chicago: Science Research Associates.35 Peters, L.H, OConnor, E.J., Pooyon, A., & Ouick, J .C (1984). The relationship between time pressure and performance: A field test of Parkinsons Law. Journal of Occupational Behavior.5, 293-299.36 Shepard III, Edward M (1996) Flexible work hours and productivity: Some evidence from the pharmaceutical industry. Clifton, Thomas J.; Kruse, Douglas. Industrial Relations, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p123, 17p37 Dalton, DR, Mesch, (1990) The impact of flexible scheduling on employee attendance and turnover, By: DJ, Administrative Science Quarterly, 1990, Vol. 3538 Purser, Ronald (2002) Contested presents: critical perspectives on ‘real-time’ management’, in: Richard Whipp, Barbara Adam and Ida Sabelis (Eds.) Making Time. Time and Management in Modern Organizations (pp. 155–67), Oxford: Oxford University Press.39 Hassard, John (2002). Organization Studies (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG.), Vol. 23 Issue 6, p885-892, 8p40 El Sawy, O. A. (1983). Temporal perspective and managerial attention: A study of chief executive strategic behavior. (Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1983). Dissertation Abstracts International, 44(05A): 1556–1557.41 Bluedorn, A. C. (2000). Time and organizational culture. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. P. M. Wilderom, and M. F. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate: 117–128. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.42 Bluedorn, A. C., & Ferris, S. P. (2004). Temporal depth, age, and organizational performance. In C. F. Epstein and A. L. Kalleberg (Eds.), Fighting for time: Shifting boundaries of work and social life: 113–149. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.43 Bluedorn, A. C., & Richtermeyer, G. (2005), August. The timeframes of entrepreneurs. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. Honolulu, HA.44 Roy, D.F. (1990). Banana time: job satisfaction and informal interaction. In Hassard, J. (ed.), The Sociology of Time. London: Macmillan.
  11. 11. Best Practice · Time Lessons for today’s managers page 1145 Schriber, J. B., & Gutek, B. A. (1987). Some time dimensions of work: Measurement of an underlying aspect of organization culture. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72: 642–65046 Smashing the Clock, Business Week Dec. 11 200647 Heejin Lee; Ji-Hwan Lee; Jiman Lee; Chongju Choi. (2005) Time To Change, Time For Change: How Was Time Used To Change A Global Company? By: Academy of Management Proceedings, , pF1-F6, 648 http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/101/samsung_Printer_Friendly.html

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