Tuesday, November 20, 2007

People Hour Power

When working on projects, I often calculate how much time a set of tasks will take me personally -- and how long I've worked on something. But I don't always keep in mind the time that will need to be spent by other people involved in the project, either in tandem with me or separately.

At work, we use a conference call service that, after every call, sends you a report indicating what phone numbers dialed in, how much time each participant spent on the call, and the total time spent by participants in the call. After a half-hour conversation this morning, I received such a report.

I spent 36 minutes on the call. Five additional people dialed in, ranging between 23 and 36 minutes per call. The mean time spent was 31 minutes. The median was 35. The mode 36. But another number is even more interesting. The total time spent by those six people (including myself) ended up being 186 minutes. More than three people hours!

What I considered to be a relatively low investment in terms of my time and work energy in fact cost six times the time I spent on it. Were there any people who didn't really need to be on the call? Did I need to be on the call?

BusinessWeek recently turned me on to PayScale.com's Meeting Miser, a tool you can use to determine not just the time cost of a meeting, but the actual salary cost of a meeting. Just plug in the titles of the people participating, and it'll tell you how much the meeting costs by the second and minute. And you can even start and stop it during a meeting to determine how much a work session is taking.

The call this morning, if I have the title mix right, cost a nickel a second, or $3.23 a minute. At a mean time of 31 minutes, it cost just more than $100. Was it worth $100?

A new way to think about how you spend your time at work!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time is that illusion which provides us structure and to avoid seeing life as a state of flux, we assume time has a beginning and an end, but it is a self-imposed assumption, which IMHO colors and informs most of what it is we personally do.

There is that aspect of time which I feel is a personal intelligence that one can wake up to but I don't whether that develops with age or simply the extent of individual capability or capacity.

The emergent property of this isn't better projects but greater maturity and the effect of greater maturity cascades to improve personal decision. Improved personal decision assists informing the pursuit of intelligent projects.

What this reveals to me is that nature is not a static thing, that to be in tune with this flow called time is to see the core intelligence in whatever it is we desire to do or are focused on doing.

My thinking here is not meant to be a prescription for time or life management but in this observation, hopefully it will serve as fuel towards allowing me to harness and bring intelligence to either personal practice or the exercise of daily practical wisdom.