Don’t waste time on systems that don’t tell you anything! Our top tips for beating the clock

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr, author of Life’s Little Instruction Book.

Here are two superb tips as used by many successful businesses that have stood the test of time.

Don’t Waste Time On Systems That Don’t Tell You Anything!

Mature businesses inevitably have various systems to record and report information.  Some may have been put in place by superiors, colleagues, or just inherited and handed down to you.

Take an objective look at these systems.  What do they actually do?  What useful purpose do they serve? By the way, the person whose job relies on maintaining the system may not be the best person to ask, whether or not the system serves any useful purpose!

If the system has no useful purpose, then it is wasting everyone’s valuable time. So either improve it, or scrap it. Would you rather an employee was compiling a useless report or helping find new business, get invoices out on time or chasing payments?

Be radical but also be respectful and do discuss your thinking with bosses/colleagues before you make changes.

Make Sure Your Systems Compare Apples With Apples

Over the years, I have acted for dozens of different Specialist Sub-Contractors. Inevitably the disputes I have helped them resolve have normally involved money.

That means I have had access to all sorts of systems, from estimating prices to costing jobs.

In even the most sophisticated companies, sometimes jobs are estimated in “apples” but costs are recorded in “pears”.  The net result is that monitoring something like on-going costs against predicted costs is harder than it should be.

And this makes it harder to understand where your business is at, which in turn means that sometimes the warning signs of a problem aren’t visible until it’s too late.

So take a long hard look at your systems and make sure that they are working in the same units.

You need to know exactly what is going on and you can’t do this if your estimate says it should have cost 3 apples, but the accounts say it has cost 5 pears.

If your systems aren’t yet synchronised don’t be too hard on yourself, even rocket scientists get it wrong as the following extract from “Why Innovation Fails Hard Won Lessons for Business”, Carl Franklin, Spiro Press, London 2003 confirms:

“For Mars Climate Orbiter, the consequences were catastrophic …….  Travelling at 10,000 mph, the Orbiter stood no chance of surviving; it literally burned and crashed.  A $125 million spacecraft was turned into a meteor because nobody realised that one set of rocket scientists was using imperial units, whilst the other was using metric.”


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