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Learning to balance the efficiency pencil
My employer has bought into a continuous improvement program. The consultants have convince the company there are savings in them there hills to be mined.
This will be my fifth improvement initiative over five companies in a 30-year career. All the initiatives masqueraded under different name. The premise of all the thimblerigs is tapping the efficiencies.
The first core drilled for efficiencies is time management. Our department has a number of meetings. To hold a meeting you need to book a room and sign out a projector if you are doing a presentation. This takes five minutes. There are 15 employees in the department. If the companies buys projector for all the meeting rooms that saves one hour per day. Over a year that is a substantial saving according to the consultants.
As a coach for a girls premier/developmental soccer team I see time efficiency programs in families. On a school day, if the kid is out of school at four and in bed by 10, that is six hours of time that is managed. Kids time is consumed by three different sports, a dance class and piano lessons. Homework time, spending time with friends and the important family time fills out the weekends. I see kids burn out and parents stressed out. To what end?
In my youth, I thought it was a good idea to do the thing your really like more often. In my mind I rationalize more is better. Playing hockey five nights a week, winter, spring, summer and fall took a physical and mental toll. In the end I walked away from the sport because I couldn’t remember what it was like to play for fun.
Employers want the most from their employees. Parents want the most from their kids. The equation Time = Doing is not the formula. Employers must realize if they take a finger and a toe from every employee, it doesn’t make a body. A child having some downtime is not going to make them delinquent.
I believe the search for the grail of efficiency exists only in the plane called balance. Balance is a word that can be both quantified and qualified. If we apply a philosophical governor to our actions and seek a balance with time, I believe the burn out will cease to burn us up.
After a 15-year hiatus from hockey, I donned the skates and mask to rediscover the fun once a week. That was three years ago. I mentor a very bright, talented young lady who walked away from competitive soccer because the experience wasn’t positive. She has chosen coaching to stay involved. My wish is for her to play again and discover through balance the fun that was lost.
Focusing on efficiency reminds me of using the hand crank pencil sharpener to get a point on the lead. The more you turned the handle for the perfect point, the more the pencil is consumed. Focus on just the point and in the end you had a short nub with an eraser, that isn’t much use as a pencil.
Sean Conway is a River Park South-based writer.
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