Creating a corporate time budget

Most companies have elaborate procedures for managing capital. But often an organisation’s collective time goes largely unmanaged.


Time is often squandered – on long email chains, needless conference calls and countless unproductive meetings. Organisations become bloated, bureaucratic and slow, and their financial performance suffers. Employees spend time away from their customers and an ever increasing number of hours away from their families, with little to show for it.


Most advice about managing time focuses on individual actions. This is very worthwhile but executives often discover their best intentions are overwhelmed by the demands and practices of their organisations.


Just as you would not permit an employee to steal a piece of office equipment, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with the time of his colleagues.


Some forward-thinking companies bring as much discipline to their time budgets as to their capital budgets. They have liberated countless hours of previously unproductive time for executives and employees, fuelling innovation and accelerating profitable growth.


In their book Your Scarcest Resource, Mankins, Braham and Caimi outline eight practices for managing organisational time. Among them are: make meeting agendas clear and selective, create a zero-based time budget, require business cases for all initiatives, simplify the organisation and standardise the decision-making process.


No amount of money can buy a 25-hour day. To get the most out of employees, treat their time as scarce and precious, and invest the effort to create disciplined time budgets to generate the greatest possible value for your company.


Taken from Harvard Business Review May 2014