Monday, September 19, 2005

Good Old-Fashioned Work

Since my mixed experience with The New New Thing, I've done a lot of thinking about good old-fasioned hard work.

I've never heard of a start-up making it big without the entire management team and most other key employees logging 65-80 hour weeks for the first year or two -- which lead me to the following epiphany:

Most emerging growth companies know that measuring key metrics is key to success. Sometimes I think we overlook the most basic metric: hours worked. This obviously isn't a problem with workers that are paid on a per-hour basis. But what about your management team? Do you know how many hours your CTO put in last week? Do you know how many hours you put in last week?

Thomas S. Monson said, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."

So here's my suggestion: This week, keep track of your hours like a lawyer would. (Don't worry; this is the only time I will ever suggest doing anything like a lawyer.) A lawyer can go to work every day for 15 hours and not get paid. Simply showing up and going through files/surfing the net/going to meetings doesn't bring home the bacon. A lawyer is only paid when s/he is providing a "billable" service for a client. The hours spent helping clients are called "billable hours."

How many billable hours are you logging each week? How many hours are you spending each day doing things that are adding value to your company?

Every day do an honest evaluation of your day's work, and log how many "billable" hours you put in, and tell someone that you're doing it so you can report to them. If at the end of the week, you're not logging 65-80 hours, based on what I have read, the chances of your start-up becoming an inspiring success story are slim.

Obviously, this isn't the only important metric. If you are working like a slave, but your work is focused on the wrong thing, you need to rethink your strategy. However, measuring work ethic is important and I think it is often overlooked by many start-ups.

Am I wrong here? Have you ever heard of a mega-successful company that succeeded with anything less than 65-80 hours/week? If so, please tell me.

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