Smashing the Clock: Getting Rid of Time Standards
The cover story this week in Business Week is called Smashing the Clock. It is the story of Best Buy's removal of all expectations of when and where you work. The only thing that matters are the results. I'm not trying to say that this IS LEAN, or ANTI-LEAN. But if lean is about how to get the most out of people, then this story is worth reading.
Here are some of the assumptions that go into a system such as this:
- Face time is not as important as productive time (something I deeply, deeply support having had experiences with extreme face-time expectations)
- people will be more productive at different times of the day, depending on personal preferences
- people will be more productive in different environments (such as sitting in the park or as one example noted, your hunting blind)
- measure people, with high expectations, for output or outcomes
Here are some the assumptions that might contradict a system like this:
- face-to-face time produces better overall outcomes than email-to-email interface
- everyone is equally motivated to perform (obviously, this is the ideal but no one comes close to this ideal; it's just a matter of how MUCH abuse you are willing to have, not IF)
- the HOW does matter (there are better ways and ONLY measuring output can have a big miss)
I think it's important to note that this will not work everywhere. I certainly have questions about doing this in their stores, but you obviously can't run an assembly plant like this. The assembly line moves or it doesn't; one person missing for 60 seconds results in something not getting done.
This is really an experiment that is by no means complete and is really worth watching. If anyone has experiences with this, or anything like it, please share.