My view on how we got so busy is there was a contagion. Once upon a time the only industries that worked hard were those associated with banking.
This contagion went from banking to the professional services firms they service, the laywers and consultants. Then somehow this extended to private equity. Then private equity companies infected the portfolio companies that they owned. And then the executives who moved from these private companies to other companies infected those companies they arrived in. I’ve made this up but it seems as though this is how it occurred.
I was speaking to a banker friend, the other day, about why working hours are still so long in banking even though bonuses have been reduced. It’s been over 10 years since I worked for an investment bank but now even the interns are working overtime. (Remarking on the intern that died after several allnighters). When I was younger the interns got sent home by 10pm they were given some respite. We looked at what could be done and realised there won’t be any change until there is a real shift.
The Arms Race for Hours
There is an arms race for hours. When services become commoditized professional services try to compete the only way they know how, add more hours and speed up delivery time. Technology has enabled get more done in less time so now we just try and get even more done. Few are using that time saving for productive quality work There is an arms race for hours. The worse thing is this arms race has spread. From banking, to law, to management consultancy, to media, to teaching, to the supermarket. There are only so many hours in the day and once the atom bomb has been wheeled out there is no where to go. It is time to put down the weapons and call a truce.
How about some innovation?
The only thing that can take us out of this is innovation.
That’s why when I work with clients I focus on completely bypassing competition. When you bypass competition and focus on innovation you create your own universe. You no longer need to commoditize yourself.