The 1440 Minute Manager

Some Immutable statistics:

  • There are more than 6,706,993,152 people in the world.
  • The world’s bond market is $67,000,000,000,000
  • Every day only has 1440 minutes.

The world has abundant resources in everything…. except time.

In business and life the only real restriction is time.

I have been working developing a new product line and customer base.

Essentially, a new enterprise. New products, new customers,  in a new industry, managing new employees and working out new processes.  I have been busy.

There is frustration, complaints, mistakes, stuff ups, success and lots of work.

The success or otherwise of the product line lies essentially in my sole ability to make the right decisions at the right time. There is no-one else to blame. They are my decisions. The outcome of the venture will be exclusively my responsibility.

I have been making and re-making a lot of decisions:. Some good, some bad.

Some decisions remaining in a strange zombie like limbo – making on-going promises of virtue and goodness – even as doubts remain, like a prospective beau to a beautiful belle at a country B&B dance – only to reveal their true nature in some distant future (most likely on the morning of next day in the case of a B&B).

A lot of these decisions are trivial but time consuming. What kind of PABX should we implement. VoIP? What’s the best way to extend a network to the new building? Which printing quote do I take? What is the best product option for this individual customer?

There are also intermixed macro decisions. What is the best way to manage growth and staffing requirements in a cash tight environment?  Who do I hire next? Who should I let go? Is this employee working out? How do I meet the needs of this class of customer? How do I want this brand to be viewed in the marketplace? How can I get this customer to pay?

Compounding value in decision making.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are some of the world’s richest men. They employee directly or indirectly ten’s of thousands of people and oversee organisations with turnovers in the scores of billions. Yet they like me only have 1440 minutes in the day.

They can only make roughly the same number of decisions as I can make in the day.  Even though the world views them as ultra-successful, they can only drive one car at a time, step into their pants one leg at a time: and they too have only 1440 minutes in any day to make decisions.

Its just that the value of their decisions weigh in value so much more than mine.

My realisation was (as I was trying to yet decide about another item of minutia), was that the most important decision I needed to make was to the decision to make my decisions compound their return.

Compounding the value of your decisions.

I needed to make the value of my decisions to compound  – to increase the value of everything I decided – to allow me to make high value decisions without having to reinvest my time in being locked into the minutia. Not only better decisions, but decisions of higher value to the objective to which I sought.

Here is my list of things I decided to do to increase my decisive “value”.

(1) Lists and Checklists:
Ensure my decisions are embodied in checklists. This frees me up from having to remember decisions and options.  Filter out options to make the decision process faster. Develop rules of thumb.

(2) Pick a strategy- and stick to it!:
Document a rule, a strategy or an approach, commit to it and give it time. Changing ideas mid stream causes you to rework. Hasten to change the macro slowly, as it can cause me to rework many of my decisions. In otherwords, when things aren’t working try tweaking before you toss the idea out.

(3) Procedures and Processes:
Capture my thought processes in writing. Share it with others, so they can build on my ideas and decisions.

(4) Invest in People, Delegate- Trust and accept errors::
Delegate, and allow others to manage decisions for you. Build layers of trust.

(5) Simplify
Know what’s your knitting and stick to it. Don’t go for the complex option. The more complexity the harder on-going operation will be to manage. Complexity, overloads decisions that you don’t have to make.

(6) Incrementalism- not Strategism
Don’t make decisions about things you can’t yet know. Don’t be drawn in by sales pitches for ‘strategic capacity/capabilities’. If we make decisions on forward options – on things which might happen, we are wasting our time on deciding on items which may not occur. Base decisions on only what you know now.

By doing these things, I am finding that I can focus on ‘bigger’ decisions so that my decisions compound and my “big” decisions of today are my “small” ones of tomorrow.


1 thought on “The 1440 Minute Manager

  1. John Cox says:

    I am going to have to consider getting into my trousers in one go.

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