Friday, February 23, 2001

Even a raging capitalist has to take some time off. Today, I left work early to go to the San Francisco Food Festival, an extravagance made possible by the fact that my wife and I will be working a volunteer table. For the cost of an hour or two of my life, I'll be able to sample the cuisine of the finest chefs in San Francisco.

Whenever I do something like this (e.g. trade off time for money), I'm reminded of how many times I've heard an employee say, "We should spend $X, because it will more than make up for the cost in time saved." I find this a particularly egregious fallacy. Yes, there are times when you have to spend more in order to get a product out more quickly, but far too often this priniciple is invoked not to save time, but to redistribute it. To reduce tedious-but-essential work and increase interesting-but-useless work. To reduce the amount of time that people work, but without reducing time-to-market.

Let's get this straight: in a world in which everyone except consultants are on salary (more on them in a later entry), time is not money unless it reduces time-to-market. Saving time doesn't put money in anyone's pocket unless changes a timetable.

I also hear this fallacy expressed the other way, as in: "I'm so highly paid, it doesn't make sense for me to do X (boring but important), when I could be doing Y (exciting and prestigious)." That's a load of horsecrap. Unless I missed something, there's no magical black box that converts your time into cash!

Remember: the only time that saving time counts is when it actually increases profits. Any other attempts to save time are simply increasing leisure time--a worthy goal, but not on my payroll!

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