Lean office

Don’t Waste My Time, and I Won’t Waste Yours

The Value of YOUR Time

Lean Certified 200I just discovered that my comment function isn’t working correctly on my blog. It will probably take until Monday for me to get it fixed. I care about it because I want the comments, and I also care about it because I don’t want to waste my readers’ valuable time composing a comment that doesn’t go through. So I’m taking care of it as quickly as I can.

The Value of My Time

I just got off the phone with a client about a three-month-old unpaid invoice. My contact told me slow pay is normal for them, but not that slow. She gave me the book keeper’s direct number. I left a voice mail.

On my end, the delay required me to check my records for payment and then check with my book keeper. It then cost me the time to call my contact (who is a delight and always nice to talk with, but still…) and then the time to follow up with their book keeper. I’m estimating roughly that I have about a half-hour invested in this so far, plus ten minutes on my book keeper’s clock. My contact has ten minutes of time invested in it, and the client book keeper now will have to deal with my voicemail and email.

That is a waste of my time. it’s also a waste of theirs. 

Don’t Ask Me to do Your Job For You

We’re having a volunteer fire fighter come out to our house to help us know how to prepare for post fire flash flooding today. He asked me to call to remind him about it. I don’t mind at all, because he’s doing me a favor. But needing to remind clients and service providers to do their jobs unfairly adds an item to someone else’s already overloaded to-do-list and already over-stretched organizational systems. 

What’s the Big Deal, You Ask?

One of the very striking things I learned from my Lean Office Certification at The University of Michigan is just how much time do-overs and out-of cycle work takes. It doesn’t just take twice as long to go back for missed items, correcting errors and remedying incomplete information. The amount of time it wastes is exponential because it stops the flow of work. 

I once worked with a web developer who made a lot of errors, didn’t ready emails carefully and often didn’t respond to my messages. I sat beside him as he worked with me, and his phone rang constantly. Why? I’d say largely because he doesn’t get it right the first time. He doesn’t respond to the first call. The fact that he fights fires continually keeps him so busy he just can’t get a system in place that will help him work efficiently. So a fix that should have taken five minutes of both of our time took probably 40 minutes of my time and 20 minutes of his. Is it any wonder I’ve replaced him?

Lean Office is great for identifying and minimizing time wasters. And Lean is about seeing the world through the customer’s eyes. That’s why saying what you mean and meaning – and doing what you say – is such an important lean communication principle. If I knew just when to expect my payment, and if I had received the payment in that amount of time, I wouldn’t have had to waste my time to make sure I got paid. And my client wouldn’t have had their time wasted either. 

Registration is open for my Communication Skills in a Beyond Busy World Webinar. It will be Friday July 27th at 11 AM Mountain time. So check http://www.speakstrong.com/services/webinars/686-communication-busy to register. I won’t wste your time.

PowerPhrase: What Improvement Did You Make in How You Work Today?

powerphrase icon2One of the success tools that Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers uses is requiring every employee to make a “2-second improvement” each day. That’s an improvement that saves 2 seconds in something they do. It’s not about improving the end result, it’s about improving how they get to the end result. 

That requirement isn’t just some nice idea that everyone ignores. Each employee is expected to—and does—develop a small process improvement each day. Some are shared in the morning meeting and others are reported in the “morning improvement walk” where the manager asks a version of this question.

  • What improvement did you make in how you work today?

Why not ask that question of yourself, and of people you work with each day? Not only will it get everyone thinking in terms of improvements, but you’ll learn some best practices that way.

My simple improvement today was to download the app for my screen sharing protocol. It saves at least two seconds when I want to share my screen with someone. Actually, I have more, but I’ll keep it simple and share just one.

Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making

Organized Audrey says it well. “Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making.”

thinking.smBecome a decision-maker. Practice by looking around your desk – your home – your closets. Chances are you’ll see evidence of delayed decisions all around you. 

Then, consider your inbox. How many delayed decisions are in there? In lean terms, consider your cluttered emails as excess inventory – one of the seven wastes of lean. Then, consider the sum-total of conversations you’ve delayed. How much energy are they zapping?

Here’s what you don’t want to do. Don’t delete all your emails just to get rid of the clutter. Note, you don’t need to get your inbox down to zero by the end of the day. You don’t need to go out and have every delayed conversation by 5 PM on Friday. Just stop delaying decisions you can make now, stop postponing conversations you can have now, and live your life with more dynamic immediacy. Then, take heart that while you may still have clutter, you’re moving in the right direction. 

Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making. Organization is the result of systems and processes that make decision-making easy. But that’s the subject of another post.