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From Management’s Point of View ~Achieving Greater Time Value~

October 20, 2023

How much value can we deliver to our customers and create for society? No matter what field or position one works in, the person who maintains this perspective will be far ahead of the person who doesn’t. At the same time, however, it might take one person 80 hours to complete a job with a given value, while someone else might need 120 hours. For the same value and quality, it would generally be better to get the job done in a shorter amount of time, and so I considered together with the staff how to improve in this area.

Definition of time efficiency

First, at our company, we express time efficiency as follows:

Hourly efficiency = Output (i.e., Results of work) / Hours spent

This is a basic way to think about the amount of output that can be obtained per hour. But we actually take this a step further, applying a cost factor to multiply by the time spent to arrive at time efficiency. For example, a manager might be able to work at double the speed of a staff or handle jobs of much greater difficulty, and would, therefore, be expected to produce around two times the value per hour as measured in sales. Accordingly, we express hourly efficiency as:

Hourly efficiency = Output (i.e., Results of work ≒ Sales) / (Hours spent x Hourly rate)

We refer to this as the Realization Rate. In practice, it is quite difficult to calculate this manually, so we developed a software called the Cockpit Panel as an in-house system for results management.

Increasing output

The place to start in order to increase output is to think about the fastest and most optimal way to increase the realization rate. While someone might point to the amount of their input and say, “Look at how hard I worked!” if that effort does not produce the value demanded by the client, then that client will not assign a high rating, and sales will not increase. If a customer feels that the amount of output is less than they expected compared to the amount billed, their evaluation will naturally be lower.

So, what should be done to increase output?

1. Quality is generated from quantity and refined by thinking things through

The only way to produce greater work results is to increase the quality of the work. How, then, to achieve higher quality? From my experience, I would say, “Start with quantity.” If you want to improve your quality, then you need to immerse yourself in the basics of your work. Take baseball as an example. Nobody has ever become a professional baseball player without focusing on the fundamentals like their swing, muscle training, and batting practice. Work is the same way. By practicing the basics over and over again, you’ll figure out the shortest ways to get things done. That is why I feel that no matter what the job, continuing to drill down on the fundamentals, starting at the staff level will lead to higher quality in the future. That being said, it’s not about practicing blindly. Elite performers don’t just practice for practice’s sake. They have the habit of “thinking through” the causes of both success and failure and “applying the lessons learned.” Failure doesn’t happen without a reason. If you can’t figure out on your own why you failed, you should consult with those above you and your colleagues. Thinking through the causes of each failure will transform failures into knowledge and experience that accumulate over time. No matter how simple the task, don’t downplay the importance of basic work. Build a solid foundation of reasoning, and continue your efforts while thinking through your methods and approaches. This is how first-rate members of society raise themselves up.

2. Systemization

We shouldn’t depend upon an individual effort alone. The specific approach that we have pursued here at TOPC Potentia is to apply information technology, including tax systems, budget management systems, and our Cockpit Panel. This of course requires development expenses, but it also cuts down on the amount of labor needed for conventional Excel calculations, as well as reducing the rate of human error.

Making Efficient Use of Time

Next, let’s turn our attention to some time-saving methods.

1. Formulate a plan (hypothesize, verify, execute, adjust)

Whether the task is routine or difficult, time efficiency will not be achieved by working aimlessly or just doing research. The element of planning is essential: form a hypothesis or presumption, verify that it is correct, move forward with execution, and make adjustments with respect to whatever issues arise. By doing so, you will be able to reduce the number of major detours that you might take otherwise.

2. Establish goals and benchmarks

When planning as described above, you should also set goals and benchmarks. If you are assigned a budget of 100 hours, then that amount of time is considered doable based on the knowledge and experience of those who have done similar work before you. But don’t take that figure for granted. You should look to see if you can complete the work faster, or if you can generate better results in that amount of time, making a plan with your goals in mind. And when the job is finished, you also need to compare with, say, last year’s version or some other similar job as a benchmark, to see how far you’ve grown and developed since last year, or where you stand in relation to your colleagues. Be aware of yourself and take on a competitive mindset. At TOPC Potentia, the Cockpit Panel can be used for this purpose, with visualization of quantitative objectives for better management and meetings.

3. Consider the ordering of your tasks

The preceding two items are project-based, but let’s also look at things from the standpoint of how we use time more generally. In our company, for instance, one staff member may have multiple clients, so there are times when accounting-related tasks and tax-related tasks must be handled in tandem. In such cases, by concentrating on accounting initially and tax matters later, for example, you may be able to repeat similar tasks and move forward more efficiently. In doing so, output would be increased, and if inputs could be made more efficient at the same time, then you would be getting even greater hourly value.

These are some approaches and methods for achieving greater hourly efficiency that we have adopted in our firm. In our discussion here, some slightly technical terms came up, and various staff members related difficult examples and excellent opinions in their presentations. Among all that, one person said something that I found particularly interesting. “I bought a dishwasher, and it now takes me less time to get the dishes done. It’s more efficient, but I just sit down and waste the extra time watching television, so in the end, I’m not using my time any more efficiently.” Everyone laughed hard at this unexpected comment; the fact that we can be so frank with each other is one of the great things about our Beer Bashes.

It is my hope that we can use the time we save to create extra value, spending our days with an awareness of building greater time value.


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