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The Unforgiving Minute

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem titled “If” in 1895. Among many pearls of wisdom in the poem, he makes a reference to the ‘unforgiving minute.’

It struck a chord with me because of how competitive the business world has become. There is no free time, and every minute a company is not moving forward is a minute it is falling behind. Because of that, I’m a big advocate of setting up the systems to take advantage of those unforgiving minutes that pile up within a company.

Some basic tips to tame those unforgiving minutes…

  1. Make every person on your team, at every level, keep a project list with one quick item (less than 15 minutes) and one longer item. If there is a break in the action, the individual will be able to fill the time productively, no matter how long it is.
  2. Make sure resources are available. When a computer system goes down for a few minutes, you don’t want teams scrounging for resources to do projects. Keep in mind that problems often cause several people to suddenly stop working all at once. Plan the resources accordingly.
  3. Make sure people are trained. If you want people working on projects, they have to know what to do. Make sure they have basic waste elimination skills, and understand the primary problem solving tools.
  4.  To support number 3, leaders should have a series of 10 minute classes prepared. If there is a bit of downtime, they can pull out their ready-to-go training plan. Obviously, that means having all the materials ready, as well as being well-versed in the content.

What other ideas do you have to tame those unforgiving minutes in your workplace?


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