It’s time

Just when people and businesses are suffering from time compression, we should be learning how to take a longer view.




Here are 10 new ways to think about time:


1. Managing our sense of time and investing in a longer-term sense of vision and mission is both a local requirement for sound business planning and a measure of our national capacity to move beyond electoral cycles to longer-term industry development cycle times.


2. Every small business in the country should by now have become aware of the way that the nature of time is changing. I have already drawn attention to the declining quantity of the ephemeral quantity that is left to pump funds into the Costello “once in a lifetime” offer of tax-free dollars open to those who can lay their hand on a spare million before the end of the financial year.


This means that time management becomes more than having a daily plan to squeeze in a few more things to be done before selling the family business or deciding its time to pull up stumps and head for the pavilion. The famous Graham Freudenberg/Gough Whitlam slogan – “It’s Time” – is the force for change again across the nation.


3. Of more than passing interest is a very different time phenomenon – the impact of time compression on the need for greater innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship as the nation generates a massive store of savings from that superannuation flood of funds for the majority of the population who now rely on fund managers to create magical returns on their invested deferred consumption.


4. Every firm must now face some months of massive turbulence that will place emphasis on their time perspectives about personal careers, investment schedules and the time it takes to deal with offers of takeover, merger and/or risk of insolvency or having to give up the family farm or home.


5. In the private sector, every CEO of a public company is facing ever greater time compression as the proportion of the population that demands assurances about disproportionate and unsustainable rates of dividend generation becomes a new generation of shareholders courtesy of Bob Hawke’s and Paul Keating’s Accord and manipulation of national savings ratios.


6. John Howard and Kevin Rudd are in the process of extending the phony war of a non-declared electoral war that is shaping up to be a massive time compression for new ministerial appointments and termination of commissions in the hunt for probity and electoral productivity.


7. State governments are making short work of the average time that ministers hold their portfolios, and public servants are being taught to bide their time and avoid the potential of placing their boss in the difficult position of being informed about the truths of their failure to achieve stated objectives.


8. Small business is becoming more export-oriented, opportunity seeking and striving to reach new markets for their existing products and services whilst under-investing, relative to the longer time horizons of start-ups around the globe that are investing more in the growth of elaborate manufacture and futures oriented foresight projects.


Many Australian firms have yet to spend the time to change their competitive emphasis from commodities based upon natural resource exploitation and capital-intensive production to intellectual resource deployment to gain sustainable prosperity.


While initially, managers concentrated on reducing manufacturing cycle time, recently managers and researchers have come to realise that manufacturing accounts for only a small proportion of total cycle time.


Managers and academics have also recently realised that purchasing and supply management can play a critical role in reducing total cycle times.


Greg Papadopoulos, chief technology officer and executive vice president of research and development at Sun, says: “It takes time – years in fact – for any company to completely change its view of the future, regardless of how fast the individual technologies and products are evolving. Once a commitment is made throughout the organisation, such as Sun’s view that computing is a utility, it takes time for the R&D guys to design, develop, test, and ultimately release new products and technologies that dovetail with this new organisational mindset.”


10. A time delay in making more creative and developmental strategic plans will have ripple effects on the divide between those with funds to invest and those with time on their hands through underemployment and over-investment in domestic housing to prop up the economy rather than extend the time for national infrastructure investments that require governments to protect against short term myopia and market failure.


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