Are companies optimizing response time or only maximizing workload ?

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Time is key to performance. It’s a well known fact. But while industrial companies have been taking it into account for ages, inventing just in time, it seems that non industrial companies have still some things to learn.

Of course, everybody wll tell me that time is a priority. And everything is done in order employees won’t loose even the smallest piece of time. No time to have a rest, to take two minutes to think, to look around or, even, to help a colleague looking for any key information you have. Everything is made to be sure people will really work every minute they are in the office. They are even been given more work than can be done, just to be sure not a second will be lost.

But is it the right solution ? I won’t tackle the myth of “presenteeism” which is an actual issue. It will come later…

Though I’m not very far from doing so : managers want to see busy people without wondering if they are really efficient. They think a full time working employee is productive. Sure he is if you only consider time. But what’s about results ? I’m not that sure.

What matters is not working a lot but doing one’s job quickly. It changes everything.

As I wrote earlier, people are overloaded by what management think they have to do in order they don’t have any slack periods, and don’t have the time to solve their day to day problems, which are being dicated by the ground’s realty. That’s one of the reasons that make me look forward to an organization that makes it possible to build adhoc networks in order to access key informations and people that help people fin the answers, the solutions they need.

That’s what will make that a client won’t have to wait for days and weeks to get the answer he needed. That’s what will make that a salesperson will give the more relevant answer to a very targeted question in a very short time and will sign a big contract. All these things that help acquiring and retaining clients more efficiently (remember a client may be internal too). But that’s only the visible part of the iceberg.

In brief, what counts is not that people are busy 100% of their time, it’s to reduce the organization’s time of response. And in order to optimize it towards cliens, it has to be optimized inside the company.

And we’re very far from that. If I have a question, a problem, which needs an expertise that none of my close colleagues have. I ask my manager, he will treat that when he will have time (making him loose some more time by the way). Then, he will ask one of his peers or his own manager. And so on until the right information or person is found (and if it’s found…). Then the information will come back to me following the same path. If the question or the answer was distorted or if I need some extra information, we just have to do the same one more time. One detail : the more the question climbs into the hierarchy the more the operation costs since people’s time cost vary according to hierarchical positions.

There’s another option : conscious of the system’s limits, I’m trying to find the “golden nugget” by myselft. Nothing being done to help me, I’m climbing up the organization tree, smiming against the flow, asking erverybody “who knows who knows ?”. The good thing is that if I find the right person there will be a discussions. The bad thing is that I’m loosing time during which people may think I’m not working. At the end I may be found guilty of not working and the guy who helped me of wasting his time with me.

The solution  is obvious : I have to be able to quickly identify the needed competences, to access reflections and best practices (which have to be delivered on a storytelling mode) and, If I still don’t find what I need, to directly contact the right person. It will help me reduce the response time, satisfying my client will take me less time, using less resources that the two previous options.

It reminds me of something I read a few weeks ago in a book dedicated to McKinsey’s mtehodology. McKinsey considers its KM system as a mainstay of its performance, which seems obvious in such a business whith such skilled people. A rule have been set up : when people identify someone who can help them, the person has to answer within a 24 hours delay. Even if you’re a new joiner trying to reach a partner. They call it “developing a rapid response culture”.

What do you think ? Do you think organization really focus on their response time ?

Et chez vous, à part faire en sorte que les collaborateurs travaillent beaucoup, que faites vous pour améliorer le temps de réponse de l’organisation ?

Tags: gestion-du-temps , Knowledge-management , mckinsey , productivité , temps de réponse ,temps e travail