What's time got to do with it?


In my first Quartz read, this caught my attention, “The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.”

At around the same time, I connected with an old colleague after a post he shared showed up in my LinkedIn newsfeed. It was written by a woman talking about how even though she left the office at 5:45 pm or whenever, she was a no less dedicated worker because she always logged back in after putting her child to bed, she always ate lunch at her desk, and she was in to the office by 7:40 am every single day.

In some aspects, I hear her loud and clear because for several years, I had a job which required me to be working on month end reconciliation no matter what was going on in my life. It was exhausting to have a traveling husband, a very young child and this, but (and I've thought about this a LOT) it was no one's fault. If I signed up to be a finance partner, then well, I had to close my client's books every month. I've lost count of how many mornings I walked in during close, ready to topple over my high heels, light-headed from investigating deviations all day and compiling explanations for them all night and then rubbing the tiredness out of my eyes to calculate forecasts. But, I knew that unless the the entire construct of financial reporting and the regulations in place for public companies changed, monthly closing was simply a fact of life; if I took on this life. What I'm trying to say is that it's a good bet that there will always be some jobs where those who manage to stay standing past everyone else will win.

Yet, for many of us, it's not this kind of job that's keeping us chained to our desks. More often than not, equating long hours with value is a losing game- for the person putting in those hours and for the initiative and team receiving them. Therefore, most clocks should limit themselves to telling the time of day, especially in the workplace of the future. This is because it's not about time at all. It's about creating and amplifying value.

Some keys to thinking about value outside the context of time-

1) Value needs to paired to outcomes. But, to do this successfully and repeatably, it's absolutely crucial that you know what outcomes you're after.

2) There needs to be crystal clarity around what we are trying to accomplish. Talk outcomes as if they're your best friend. Imagine them, color them in, heck...paint them on the sidewalk in chalk if that's what it takes (fellow Swiss, you might want to run this one by your Gemeinde first!)

3) Answer the following questions thoughtfully and honestly-

a) What behaviors and actions help achieve the target outcomes?

b) What are the most efficient pathways to reach those outcomes?

4) What's the purpose? The world is changing in terms of what people value, and this is one change which is for the better because it is likely to transform the world into a better place for us all. According to the World Economic Forum, four out of ten people polled in the Deloitte Millenial Survey 2018 believe that the goal of business should be to "improve society". Even the most jaded professional would do well to get behind that if for no other reason than that one of those four might well be their next boss!


What could become possible when we run our outcomes through the filter of purpose and get to know them as if they were our best friend, know how everyone involved should act and do in the service of those outcomes and hold our entire operation accountable to doing the best possible job on that path and nothing else? Once you catch your breath after reading that sentence, you might guess, "We could create unprecedented value. Sitting at our desk. Or, out skiing."

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