Monday, May 15, 2017

Netflix Your Life

There we were, sitting at lunch talking about the "time v dollars" problem. The conversation wandered between alternatives to "trading time for dollars" and "working from wherever". As we tried to focus in on the ultimate work-life balance equation, my friend came out with phrase "Netflix your life". Hit it right on the nose!

If you were ever around when live television was a thing that people did, you know that you watched what was on - when it was on. In other put everything else in life on hold to watch your shows when they were on. And of course this meant sitting through commercials; or most likely, timing snacks and bathrooms with commercials. For that time, TV owned your life. And, their goal was to keep you glued to the TV for as long as possible so they could sell ad time at a higher rate (more viewers == more targets == more revenue) - the ratings game.

FFWD to modern times - aside from the VCR - there was no other way to do it, you were on Network Time. Nowadays, we have a bajillion ways to watch what we want, when we want - were in full-control of our viewing time. We can even watch at 2x speed to cram more video into one sitting. And...its portable - so we can watch wherever.

How did this change the game? We became more discerning with what we watch. TV got much much better. And producers can measure exactly what people watch. Furthermore, it should work better for the networks since they get more viewers - albeit more competition.

If we are able to work whenever and wherever - we have Netflixed our lives.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Quick Math on Time

Let's imagine we have some arbitrary process that takes about 20 mins per day to accomplish. And let's say it is done 5 days a week. That's 100 mins per week, about 400 mins per month, and 5200 mins per year.

I wish I could say that was 52 hours, but we're not quite vibing on metric time in this world so I'll have to stick with our whateverwegot standard time: It's about 86 hours per year...more than 2 weeks vacation for most people, an entire paycheck, a whole Sprint plus get the picture! How much does it cost?

Of course that part depends a lot on what the activity is. And valuation has the same dependency. You just can't automate a lot of processes away, but when you can automate and turning a 20 min/day task into a 1 minute task (or better yet 1hr/year for configuration) you better believe it can make a difference!

Let's put some $$$ to it...well, there's not easy answer here...but lets say its a skilled knowledge worker making $100/hr...easy to see that's over $8k/yr. And if more than one person does the same process that of course becomes a multiplier. A mid-size company might be losing a whole year or more on 20 minutes a day. Let's also suppose this process could be automated in maybe 8-16 hours.

How much does a meeting cost? Taking a guesstimates at some meetings I've attended where about 10 mid-tiers, 6 upper-mids, 15 lower-tiers (talking salaries here folks) met for an hour each month...that's equivalent of 31 person-hours (and then some considering the disruption, in which case we're talking 40 person-hours). Plus the space and resources used...range of $3000+ per meeting...or over $36k/year.

Automate or cut the fat...Kaizen is the practice of reducing (eliminating) waste. One way to cut waste is to automate, another is to eliminate, or lean-up your process. If you have an opportunity to do either, you stand to win big by freeing up resources so they can spend more time on more important things - like going to the beach, surfing, mountain biking...or what I mean is uhm...delivering more value, yeah that's what I meant.

Could that meeting have be cut down somehow? Probably not totally, but with some impact analysis maybe could save some people the trouble of having to attend. Would it be worth addressing? Probably not in this case. Point of this exercise is to illustrate that all waste cannot be reasonably eliminated. Plus there is a cultural value in the meeting as it served a secondary function to create some form of direction to an otherwise disparate departments around a common goal (as well as moderate hegemony).