Saturday, 27 April 2013

Keep the money, I take the time. You can often deliver more value just by increasing the speed. Velocity and frequency are redefining success

"Time is of the essence," is a clause that lawyers insert in contracts when the date of delivery plays a crucial role. In those cases, even one day of delay might determine that commitments have not been satisfactorily fulfilled.

Keep the money, I take the time

When heavy contractual penalties apply, the whole undertaking could become a nightmare for the party who has incurred the delay. The experience of 50 years of Japanese management techniques only serves to confirm that speed has become a critical success factor in all fields of human endeavour.

Producing and exchanging value, whether physical or psychological, is the fundamental reason why people interact. In this sense, purchasing commercial products and services is not that different from enjoying conversation with friends or family. It all boils down to giving and receiving some kind of value.

You can often deliver more value just by increasing the speed

 Five decades ago, Japanese firms began to develop a management style based on extreme cost-awareness. Their experimentation with different techniques quickly led to the conclusion that the best way to deliver maximum value was to increase the end-to-end speed of processes. This principle applies equally to design, engineering, factory organisation, and sales.

In the case of car manufacturing, this approach has resulted in a relentless shortening of delivery times. In Japan, for example, the period elapsed between the order placed by a customer and the date of delivery of a new car specially made for him is often under 20 days.

The constant drive for improvement has led, at the same time, to progressively better working conditions in that industry. The manpower required to manufacture some vehicles has already fallen below 40 hours, which is the standard weekly working time in most of Europe.

Velocity and frequency are redefining success

In our private lives, speed and frequency have also become part of the definition of success. Wide-spread inexpensive Internet connections determine in part how often we call up parents or relatives who live far away. Low-cost airlines allow us to visit them more often. On-line dating permits contemporary men and women to meet potential partners outside their circle of acquaintances.

In our age, speed is taken for granted in most products and services. Nobody has the time to wait. In many fields, providers can no longer charge premium prices for preferential attention. Immediate availability has become the first criterion that might lead us to try out a new supplier. If you cannot offer that, your company might not survive for long.

Should we be reluctant to allow time-consciousness to drive our actions and choices? In my view, we have reached a point where one seldom has the alternative to do otherwise. In every business and profession, speed is of the essence.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by Mike Johnston under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]