Many of you would have heard of the expression “rubber time” when referring to families with kids, and it really means the family is not always on time and a meeting time can take on many different meanings.
Let’s meet at 3 pm, will be understood as “I will try to meet you at 3 pm, if my kid isn’t napping, if I did not fall asleep first while battling the kid to have their nap, if I have cleaned up the massive mess the kid had left in the wake of lunch.”
… now you understand why parents are hesitant to commit to appointments and even more hesitant to commit to a time.
They typically employ what is called “Flexible scheduling”, by fluidly reacting their own needs and schedule around the less flexible needs of the child. It’s not to say they bend their backs at the whim of the child, but more to say parents don’t beat themselves up if they missed their coffee date with their best friend.
Shifting gears into the workplace, why is flexible scheduling also important?
First, a clarification, flexible scheduling should not be applied to meeting schedules, where you arrive late due to “other commitments”. It should also not be applied to mission critical projects, as those would have very high stakes involved.
So, where should flexible scheduling be best applied?
It should best be applied to new projects, i.e. expanding into a new country, developing a new product, etc, where there are many unknown factors.
Even if you had done your proper due diligence, and gotten all the facts right about he demographic of the audience, the market share data, etc … there will be undefined factors that will impact the development of the project. This is where being more flexible in timing to allow for manageable failures to be uncovered is important.
Doing so has a couple of benefits:
- Allows you to grow at the right pace for the market; your idea could be before it’s time in the market, and being more flexible will allow you to have more time to persist and wait for market maturity, rather than declaring the project a failure.
- Allows you time to uncover all the possible pitfalls; your project is new and there are many unknown, take time to explore all possibilities and let he problem surface, some problems take time to surface, but because you had a slightly more flexible schedule, you could address the problem before your project is shipped or goes live, preventing costly recalls or PR fiasco.
- Allow you to identify the largest opportunity, with more time on hand, you can chat up more partnerships and identify the one with the most benefits, or focus on the core opportunity
It’s not rocket science and you needn’t change the way you operate drastically, but it’s just having a small change in mindset and to influence those around you.
Where else could you be more flexible in your schedule? Let me know …
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“Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column that combines 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.