l spent my days in school monitoring the seconds as they slowly formed themselves into minutes and then hours. As an adult—an automotive service professional— I measured time and productivity in tenths of an hour and whether or not you were able to ‘beat the book.’ A reality that determined technician efficiency, service bay productivity, and ultimately, profit.
I come from a world where time is a tyrant and the clock an uncompromising taskmaster. I entered that world willingly. However, now, years later, I question whether or not defining productivity the way we always have still works. Especially, when it corrupts our understanding of what time well-used ought to be.
Productivity, Value, and Results
Unless we use time wisely it is meaningless. Meaning accompanies the creation of value. Results and value are what’s important—all that’s important. In fact, I would argue that measuring results and value-creation is a more effective measure of what we are trying to accomplish than just about anything else.
I was recently interviewed for a project that has the potential to impact countless lives. It remains to be seen whether or not that time was well-spent. But it’s possible the value that will come out of that hour will far exceed the sixty minutes invested. If all we consider is time there is no place for things like synergy, teamwork, and symbiosis.
The question has to be whether or not things like this interview and what follows was productive by virtue of some ancient, artificial criterion? Should time constitute the critical element in this equation or is there a place for value? And if there is a place for value, shouldn’t we be talking about that and whether or not whatever it was you just did successfully accomplished what you set out to do?