Jon Miller, over at Gemba Panta Rei, reminded me last week of how eloquently and succinctly Peter Drucker stated so many of the ideas that I often struggle to articulate. Here's Drucker on time:
Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses our time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource.
When the concept is stated this clearly, the connection to lean is unmistakable. Time is a resource, and lean is nothing if not creating more customer value with fewer resources.
When I was at LEI's Lean Transformation Summit a few weeks ago, I attended Drew Locher's workshop on bringing lean thinking to offices. One of the things he said that really hit home for me was that time management is absolutely a key part of lean in the office. Of course. If you want to remove the waste in a process, then you really ought to figure out ways to take out any waste of "this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource."
If you think about time this way, you might be a little more reluctant to attend meetings with no clear objective, or allow people to walk in and steal your attention with the dreaded "quick question" (that's anything but), or succumb to the tyranny of the urgent email.
It's irreplaceable. Invest it wisely.