Taking time off the table

Something that drives me is to not let time become the enemy, at least not in creative work. (I’m also extremely deadline driven and enjoy the constraint of a deadline and the choices and creativity it prompts. But that doesn’t mean to count hours or minutes.)

I think how an organization views time becomes its superpower. If we measure results in time, then time is what we’ll get. Time as an input is never the result I want in 21st Century creative work—it’s what I want when people dig holes with shovels or mow my lawn by the hour.

So I try to take time off the table, except in big long-term milestones and small self-driven commitments towards the objective. Sometimes you have a stroke of brilliance, sometimes ideas just collide, sometimes you’re having a rough day—commitment to the big milestones are almost always met if you don’t measure the hours that go into their meeting.

This morning, our two software developers, CEO, and myself were talking, and a software developer asked about how his level of architecting will impact fundraising plans. The meeting went down a complete strategy and stages rabbit trail that was fantastic because that was the moment it was most interesting, meaning we were all in the flow of and experiencing the results rather than abstracting them and holding them for some time in which they may become relevant.

When you have to make a decision and need a teach-piece it’s much different than when you don’t, because you don’t have skin in the game yet and must imagine it.

That discussion and the ensuing competitors analysis we did together was extremely valuable, and would have never happened at most of the corporate-manager-minded places I’ve worked and seen. Yet we leveled up every following decision the entire team would make; forever. At the cost of 15-20 planned minutes.

No one was stressed about billable hours, whether that affected an 8-hour day, and so on. We knew it contributed to getting the goals met, even if not today’s tasks. And that will save hours and hours when the activity is repeated: taking the time to get smarter is always faster in the end.


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