In this digitally enhanced world, the world is converging… brands and commerce are global; netizens (in most countries) can surf anywhere in the world; and even language and attitudes seem to be merging. As a result, while we all may be operating in different time zones, one thing is clear: we are all getting synchronized. It’s not just that it’s about time for every company to transform digitally. It’s that we all tied to time. Everyone now has to show up on time. For starters, there’s no excuse for not knowing what time it is. It’s on the front of the handheld device at which people look on average 80 times a day (source). Moreover, the time is exactly accurate on every device.
How do you view time?
I’ve long held the view that how you view and manage time reflects your philosophy on life. It’s the big equalizer in that, for everyone, there are only 24 hours in a day. Some may have more days than others, but the principle of how you approach time reflects on who you are. To take some classic examples: If you’re always early to appointments, you clearly plan ahead and are prepared. You are likely more risk-averse, too. Conversely, if you’re always late, you probably always have too much on your plate. Probably, you do you not anticipate so well. You may (if implicitly) believe that your time is more worthy than the others’.
Time as central to digital transformation
In business (and in life in general), we often talk about how time seems to have accelerated. At least the pace of change certainly has sped up. The market waits for no one. Product life cycles have shortened, and expectations for responses have, too. Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier nor cheaper to communicate quickly and massively anywhere in the world. That includes video conference calls, a mainstay for any company doing international business these days. Importantly, communication is the lifeblood of any organization. Good communications are clear and easy to understand. They are shared with or sent to the right individuals in a timely manner. Responding slowly to a customer inquiry can cost you the business. For many communication platforms, you can measure response rates and see when people have ignored your message. Transparency and immediacy — albeit not without perils — are the order of the day. Today, when you schedule a conference call with multiple parties around the world, it’s far less acceptable to be tardy. And there will be no winding back of the proverbial clock. Considering the importance of communication to the fluidity of business, strong communication habits and manners are entirely central to your culture and, thus, to the success of your digital transformation program.
Be on time! It is strategic for your transformation
Given the sensitivity to time, “le petit quart d’heure parisien” (i.e. the quarter-hour tardiness that Parisians like to accord any rendezvous) is no longer permissible. Quirky notions like “island time” or “Panamanian time” — where time is an abstract, if not fungible notion — will not stand up in a modern business context. For companies wishing to execute and coordinate a transformation to accommodate this digitally infused world, being on time becomes not just a practical need. It absolutely reflects a synchronization that helps to break down barriers and silos and connects us all. It’s a strategic consideration that will be part of a successful digital transformation program.
Time management as part of your culture
It’s well documented that beliefs and values shape our attitudes and behaviors. The aggregated behaviors and mindset of the employees then become the de facto company culture. Communication patterns and meetings are an observable manifestation of your business’ culture. And both are intimately tied to time.
Do you feel time?
I’ve always believed that I have a pretty close physical connection to time. I feel like, during the day, I can guess the time without looking at my watch and be close to within a few minutes pretty much all day long. It’s not something to brag about, perhaps, but it does reflect on my awareness of time. It’s not just that “life is short,” it’s that life runs on time. And I believe the same must be true for successful digital transformation programs.