01 February 2012

Eleven Minutes of Football

During the tenure of then CEO Jack Welch, Business Week did a piece entitled, "How Welch Manages GE."  It highlighted leadership "rhythms and rituals" over a 12-month period showing in detail how one man dealt with an enormous task--that of managing a company whose 1998 revenue (the year the article appeared) was $90.8 billion, with $8 billion in profits, and 276,000 employees worldwide.

The story is a case study in personal and time management--and points up the importance of having a top notch executive assistant like Rosanne Badowski who managed Mr. Welch as he was managing GE.

The article gives an inside look at Welch's leadership agenda, focusing on those things belonging to a CEO which cannot be delegated to anyone else.   It's also a reminder how a calendar can be a steering mechanism for any organization.

Playing the Game

Is Super Bowl XLVI (46) a teachable moment for executives?  What could be learned about managing the corporate clock from the American version of football?  

Two years ago "The Wall Street Journal" commissioned a study of the National Football League to see how much time was actually spent playing the game during a typical broadcast.  

The results:

"According to the Journal's study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes."

The writer of the story, David Biderman, concludes, "if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg."  

The balance of the broadcast, excluding commercials, goes to the following:
  • Three seconds of cheerleaders
  • Seventeen minutes of replays
  • Sixty-seven minutes of everyone standing around

Allocation of Time

If you did a study of your business or nonprofit, what would it find?

-How much time is given to cheerleading?

-How much time is given to replaying the past?

-How much time is given to standing around?

-How much time is given to the few things that are likely to make the biggest difference?

Your Calendar

As the leader what is it only you can do?  In the coming year what could you get rid of and never miss?

But old habits die hard.  As Mark Twain once observed:

"Habit is habit and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time."

It could be the most important thing to do in 2012 is carefully examine your calendar and goals to see if there is a good match between the two.  

What should be the relationships between time for thinking; time for rest; time for self-renewal; time for family; and time for business?  Finding the right combination among these competing, yet complementary values, is in everyone's best interests.

What are the "rhythms and rituals" of your schedule?  Are they moving the business closer to its goals?  Do the old rituals need modifying or are new ones in order?

As it was with Jack Welch, and his successor at GE, Jeff Immelt, there are only 24 hours in a day.

In your leadership role, where should you be spending time?



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