Strategic Allocation of Minutes Saved

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The week before I presented on ROI for Office 365 at the Digital Workplace Conference in Auckland, I did a trial run of the slide deck with my team at Silverside. They provided several helpful points of feedback, such as slow down (yup, I definitely raced through the trial run), offer better signposting in the slides (yes, good call), and add a section on strategically allocating freed up minutes in advance. I heard the last one in passing during the trial run, but it was only afterwards that the a-ha moment hit.

The new section – which I inserted as Value Pattern 4. Strategic allocation of minutes saved – is now one of my favourite sections of the slide deck (and our new ebook) because it actually offers a way of seeing an uplift in effectiveness, productivity and business value. The idea is very simple: rather than trying to sweep up as many 1-2 minutes of saved time at the end of the day to create enough time quantum to do something with, invest the totality of them upfront in a key strategic project, opportunity or client.

Here’s the thought flow:

  1. You can see logically how using the new tools in Office 365 can save time – eliminating waste, making things faster, streamlining tasks, etc.
  2. Add up how many minutes you could expect to save out of your regular workday – given what you actually do and the new tools that you could actually use. That number could be 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes or more.
  3. Brainstorm a list of key strategic activities that you could be doing but haven’t found the time to get started on. Perhaps it is being more intentional about coaching members on your team. Or calling one important client every day that you’re not currently working with to check in. Or writing a blog or a book in your area. Or reading a book a week. Or working on a new idea for a product or service.
  4. Select one or two of these activities and invest the number of minutes you calculated at step 2 directly into this activity – and do it first or early every day, before the demands of the day derail your plans.

Investing 30 to 60 to 90 minutes every day in a key strategic activity holds the potential for opening up brand new client opportunities, new lines of business, new products and services, and new career opportunities for yourself. What will you create?

Taking this approach is also a key idea in the time management area: identify your priorities and intentionally order your day around those. Don’t get caught out by trying to finish all the little and often low-value tasks at the expense of the major one or two initiatives that would make a transformative difference in your work and career. The Harvard Business Review has a nice article on this – see Make Time for the Work That Matters (September 2013).

It’s also similar to the idea in creativity and innovation, where a firm empowers employees to spend 15% to 20% of their time on tinkering, inventing and attempting new things. For 3M, the Post-It Note line is the most famous result of its 15% Culture which was introduced in 1948. For Google, the number is 20%, or one day a week for projects that employees “think will most benefit Google” (although whether this policy is still in force, or is actually “120% time” is a matter of debate).

The Post-It Notes market globally was over $2 billion last year, and even has its own market supply and analysis report and forecast. That’s got to be a whole lot better for business than attempting to do email 2 minutes faster a day.

There are of course many ways in which you can measure your ROI. But it is quite clear that measuring it in terms of minutes saved, might not be so useful.

Download our eBook User Adoption for Office 365: How to Lock-in a Return-on-Investment and find out the possibilities of getting your ROI with Office 365.