“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” – Bruce Lee
Do you like that quote above? It is from one of the Masters of the Martial Arts, Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was a true artist, and over the past two decades I have studied and drawn on his style, his art, and his life philosophy as an example for building my life arts. However, Bruce and this above quote did not just suddenly pop into my head upon thinking about a reduced work-week, Timothy Ferris did. And luckily for me, Timothy Ferris wrote this ground-breaking book titled The 4-Hour Work Week, and thanks to the wonders of capitalism, and my wise purchasing decisions, I simply had to walk over to my bookshelf, flip open his book and Viola! Bruce’s quote appeared right before my eyes. Funny how things like this happen, in a seemingly serendipitous fashion… or is it? Could something else be going on?
Let’s look at the act of writing this blog article as a case study in point. I was scrolling through my end of day news feed and noticed a colleague had shared an article on the benefits of the four day work week. My brain then jumped instantaneously to Tim’s book, a book originally acquired during my business trip to Mississauga over a decade ago. Insert thought provoking question into brain computer – “Why only a four day work week, why not a three day, or two day, or perhaps even 4 hours?” Walk over to bookshelf, thumb through book, observe Bruce’s quote, key takeaway topic – Elimination, concepts of waste reduction, lean methodology, 5S, Sherlock Holmes, management consulting, client examples…. It all appears to be occurring naturally, and effortless, however something more is happening here, and we can sum it up in terms of both ‘Flow’ and ‘Mastery’. Trusting in habitual skills acquired over a lifetime that provide me with the ability to make instantaneous connections below the level of consciousness, primarily in areas of business and organizational optimization.
When we look at concepts such as a four day work week, often people with ‘stuck in a rut’ thinking will argue that such a move would be terrible for their organizations productivity. This is an error in thinking, extremely pessimistic, and highly detrimental – those holding such viewpoints should be fired immediately. In actuality, upon observing pretty much everything in both nature and organizations alike, we notice that the more people habitually ‘do a task’ or ‘engage in an activity’, the more this moves towards becoming second nature. People naturally become more efficient and productive over-time, especially when engaged in meaningful work that they both personally enjoy and also see value and purpose in performing. The value of the work produced is the key importance here, and this is where smart companies focus their efforts.
In a world continually pitching ongoing process improvement, we find more often than not, the majority of these initiatives tend to fail and fall short, especially in the Western countries. Why? One reason is the major lack of vested interest in our people, which creates a lack of trust amongst our employees. In a country such as Japan, it is common to see individuals hire on and work at a single company for their entire life. Their entire career, is family-focused, with loyalty and mutual respect between employee and employer. It amazes me (well not really) the number of ‘self-proclaimed’ experts in the West, many in senior management roles, with a multitude of subordinates off and away from ‘work’ on a second or third ‘sick leave’, drowning in employee attrition up to their eye-balls. I also feel that many HR professionals are ill-equipped to deal with many of these issues, and these are clearly management issues. For issues like this, winning organizations will recognize and identify that these problems both exist and need to be addressed in a timely fashion. They will benefit significantly by hiring someone like me, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and trusted advisor.
Let me paint you a picture – Imagine if your employees became twice as effective and productive in their jobs, while at the same time working 1-2 days less per week? What would that look like?
Note: This is the part where you play along and actually close your eyes, visualize and imagine what that this does indeed look like.
Do you think your employees would be happier if they had more time to spend with family, friends, and those they loved? Do you believe your employees would feel better or worse knowing that management & leadership valued and trusted them? When you picture this, moving forward, observing these now valued and trusted employees engaging with your customers and clients (both internal & external) how different does that look? What happened? What has changed? Do conflicts seem to get resolved quicker and more efficiently now? Has overall employee mental health, job satisfaction, and psychological capital improved? Are people staying longer? Putting in more effort? Are your people recommending your place of employment, and bragging to their family and friends?
Now what is that future worth to you? What value would this provide your organization? And if you could start to see turnaround results in one month vs. six, would that be worth even more?
It is right about here in the visualization process when most of my clients experience an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment, and realize that true ‘value’ is not simply reflected in time spent. It never has been. The direct value I provide clients stems from over two decades of education & experience, harnessed and laser-focused. This innate ability to hone in on your ‘key business problem/issue’ that once resolved, will enhance your organization’s ROI, culture, and profit margins immensely, is my skill. I often describe my role as a CMC as part Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Lee, and Doctor Strange. Upon working with me, clients are in a far better place at our project commencement, than during initial engagement. Their employees are also in agreement.
To quote Timothy Ferris’s reflection on fear and hesitation in The 4-Hour Work Week – “None of my disasters came to pass, and my life has been a near fairy tale since. The business did better than ever, and I practically forgot about it as it financed my travels around the world in style for 15 months.” Doesn’t that sound amazing! Magical! The Stuff that Business Owner Dreams are Made of!
Or, you could just keep doing the same old same old, day in, day out. Keep on micro-managing your employees, don’t trust them for a second… blame, complain and cast judgement on them as your business nose dives straight into recession…
“Many a false step was made by standing still.” – Fortune Cookie. Don’t choose to stand still, choose different.
Choose to embrace value! Call me, Wesley Paterson, Certified Management Consultant, and let’s start turning things around for you, your business, organization, or team. To quote Thomas Edison “There is a better way to do it – find it.”
“There is a better way, and developing your people to identify and be empowered and self motivated enough to find the better way, is even better.” – Wesley Paterson.