I read this article and it strikes home on a couple of fronts. But before I get to why, let me suggest that if you are not reading Harvard Business Review on a regular basis, start now, because you are missing out.
Time is money is over. There I said it. That was yesterday. Today, what you accomplish with your time is money. Think about it, do you want someone simply putting time against your business or do you want the results of their efforts? Whether I’m hiring a lawyer, a CPA or even an ad agency, I’m not looking to buy a bunch of hours at $100, $200 or $400 each. What I’m buying are great ideas and effective, diligent work that helps me win my case, pay fewer taxes or sparks an idea so terrific that it will propel my business forward.
Does getting to this level of thinking and execution take an hour? A week? A month? Does it matter? Assuming your deadlines can be met, it’s the value of the results that count, not the effort it took to get there. Aligning yourself with people who can deliver great value, time and again, gives you the best shot at reaching (and exceeding) your goals. That’s how you should determine who to work with. Both inside and outside your organization.
Find a culture that is highly collaborative and focused on getting results and you and your organization will win more than your fair share – regardless of what you hire them to do. Find an organization that is incented on billing more hours and you’ll either see more bills for more hours or you’ll see less and less experienced (i.e. more cost effective) people working on your business. That is a road to nowhere. A race to a very efficient bottom.
At Firehouse, we don’t track time and our time is not for sale. That’s why we ditched timesheets. They were immaterial to the way we work. We get results and that is what you are buying from us. If we don’t get it right you shouldn’t have to pay more for us to keep working to get it there. So long as the direction doesn’t change we work hard until we deliver, period. Honestly, it makes us more efficient because we can’t afford to waste time since the effort we put in to projects does matter to us. It affects the type of people we recruit, train and hire because we need smart experienced people attacking the problems our clients face early and often.
So, with timesheets gone, we decided to go ahead and ditch the vacation policy too. We hire adults who work hard and take off the time they need to bring a healthy balanced approach to their work. Fresh people create fresh work. Do we have rules and order? Of course, but over the years it became clear that those who are the most successful, and the best fit here, clearly hold themselves to higher standards. They don’t need me or anyone else telling them to work more (or less) hours. They’re already busy busting it every day to get to a better ideas, solutions and results. And they’re certainly not going to stop just because an estimate said they were running out of time….
If there was still time, then it could be better. Our culture now more officially reflects that. So do the results our clients are seeing.
If your culture does not reflect that yet, don’t worry.
There’s still time.