Ask the Experts

Time Management & Profits

Question: How do you structure a company to be more profitable time management wise?

Drew Cameron: I’ll just throw out a few things for kind of a check-off-the-box type list if you will. Obviously, everything we talk about on these calls, it seems, always comes back to the owner and the management team. And when we come back to that we always look to vision, mission, core values, organizational charts, processes, procedures, daily checklists, forms, reports, daily huddles, weekly departmental meetings, biweekly management meetings, monthly company meetings, those are the types of things that I would first look at.

And here we are at the end of the year, and I was just on a call earlier with EGIA, and we were talking about this, and so I say review all processes anually, or as the need arises. So, once you take a look at all your forms and reports and systems and processes and procedures and say, you know, are they still relevant? Are they still as current, effective and efficient as they can be? And determine the necessity of that process and tasks that people are doing within their positions, and is there a way to streamline and innovate that. And question why you do the things that you do, and are they necessary to achieve the mission or are they just in place to make someone comfortable or mask some other deficiency. I go into a lot of companies, and I know Gary does as well, and when you ask someone what they do, they can always tell you what they do, but they can’t always tell you why they do it. Usually the answer is “this is the way it’s always been done” or “this is what I was told,” and we’ve never questioned why are we doing this? Is this the best way to do it? Is this even necessary to do?

For example, even in my own company back in the ‘90s, we were fully computerized, and we had a lady who maintained a ledger book of all job numbers. And when I asked Vivian why she did it she said “Because I’ve always done it. In case the computer ever crashes we can go to the ledger and reference the job number.” And I said, “OK and how many times have you referenced the ledger in the event of a computer crash.” And she said “we haven’t had a computer crash in three years.” And when I asked how many times she referenced the ledger when the computers crashed three years ago she said, “I never did.” What she was telling me is that she had a process for the sake of having a process. Process for the sake of process is inefficient.

And lastly, time management is not what we want to look at but, rather, we want to look at task management. Are we as effective and efficient as possible? Because we all get the same amount of time to do things, but it’s are we doing the right things? Warren Buffett said, to paraphrase, he figured out the top 25 things he needs to do to be successful, and then he focused on the top 5 of those top 25. And he basically said that being disciplined is doing the top 5 things and doing them as effectively and efficiently as you possibly can, but also having the discipline not do the other 20 things. What you're going to find is the Pareto principle, wherre 20% of our efforts give us 80% of our results. Focus on that, get the right people sitting in the right seats doing things the right way. When you focus on those types of things, life gets a lot easier. Most importantly, schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize schedule. Allocate specific, finite amounts of time to do those things, and you’ll find that you don’t necessarily manage time, you manage the tasks that you get to do within the time that you have.

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