A Better Way To Work TimeBack Management

About Dan Markovitz

Dan Markovitz is the founder and president of TimeBack Management. Prior to founding his own firm, Mr. Markovitz held management positions at Sierra Designs, Adidas, CNET and Asics Tiger. Learn More...

Leveling; smoothing out the flow; e.g., doing two performance evaluations a day for 3 weeks, rather than ten a day for three days -- and then needing to take a vacation because you're so burned out.
Overburdening people, process, or equipment; e.g., people working 100 hour weeks for months on end -- come to think of it, like most lawyers and accountants.
Uneveness or variability; e.g., leaving work at the normal time on Thursday, but having to stay at the office till midnight on Friday because the boss finally got around to giving you that project...at 4:30pm.
Waste; activities that your customer doesn't value and doesn't want to pay for; e.g., billing your customer for the really expensive 10am FedEx delivery because you didn't finish the document on time.

TIMEBACK BLOG Syndicate content

5S makes you better.

Posted September 14, 2009 @ 10:51 AM

As you've probably read here ad nauseum, 5S is a fundamental part of lean. It helps you to spot abnormalities in a process or a system so that you can make improvements. 

But can it make you a better manager? Or entrepreneur? Or venture capitalist? Or journalist?

Although 5S is traditionally applied to the physical environment, I believe that it isn't just applicable to physical space -- you know, "a place for everything and everything in it's place." In a larger sense, 5S can be applied to time as well.  It's an awkward locution, but think about having "a time for everything, and everything at the right time. And that means time to think and plan as well, not just react to the latest fire.

In the MIT Sloan Management Review, Nancy Duarte, the CEO of Duarte Design, says that

Clear space, oft maligned, is one of the most important elements of design. We want to utilize all our resources, not “waste” space, time or talent by leaving them unused. But what happens when we use things to 100% of their capacity? When a desk is 100% covered with papers, it is no longer a useful space. When people are kept busy 100% of the time, no time is available for generating new ideas.
This is a theme that keeps coming up when you talk to very successful people.  Barack Obama touched on this idea last year during his trip to Europe:

the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking.

The CEO of eBay, John Donhoe said essentially the same thing:

I find that if I don’t schedule a little bit of structured time away, where there’s no interruption, that it’s very hard to get the kind of thinking time and reflection time that I think is so important.

And Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (and whom I wrote about here and here), reserves at least four (count 'em, four!) work days per month with NO appointments or commitments during which he can do, well, whatever he wants: writing, talking to clients, or rock climbing. Whatever.

It's this temporal "white space" that enables a person to spot abnormalities, identify areas for improvement, and really tackle the tough issues.

Dany Levy, the founder of Daily Candy, is even more explicit:

There is a dearth of white space, of down time. I have gotten better about not checking my email as incessantly, simply because I felt like I was so reactionary. Everything I was doing was just a reaction to something. In terms of creativity, it allowed me no time to actually come up with anything new, because I was constantly just reacting.
And that, I think, is how 5S can make you better manager at whatever it is that you do. When applied to time, 5S clears out the clutter and allows you to focus on the forest instead of the trees -- or the bark. It allows you to spot large-scale abnormalities that are hampering your ability (or your organization's ability) to do the great things that you aspire to.

Think of it as the 5S mind.

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Thanks, your website is very helpful

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