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Does your company invest your time wisely?

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How you spend your time at work probably says more about your company's organization than about your personal time-management style, according to Jim Drury, director of Lochridge & Company Inc.

Many believe that they never have enough time to get things done, but others disprove this myth. The difference between the two groups is probably apparent in their calendars. As a first step toward understanding how your organization uses your time, note how many hours from the last two months went into communications or meetings that:

* Were internally focused with no clear links to key business goals

* Should have been solved by another employee

* Mediated cross-functional or cross-divisional issues

* Didn't provide a significant amount of new information

* Dealt with issues of marginal importance to your area of responsibility

* Dealt with objectives that could have been met without your involvement

Often, meetings are-the main vehicle for sharing information, solving problems, making decisions, or reinforcing the existing power structure. When they are not crucial activities, they are a costly time drain. Finding ways to stop the time drain is the same as finding ways to increase the company's business.

Successful, growing organizations have business processes that occur naturally, without intervention. This is the same core advantage of the small, successful entrepreneur. The approach of having structure follow strategy doesn't go far enough. Structure should also be aligned to the processes that support business strategies.

When structure isn't aligned to these processes, organizations get trapped in divisional, regional, or functional silos. Silos prevent cross-functional, cross-divisional problems from being solved at the lowest levels possible. They create the situations that must then be solved by meetings or executive intervention. And since these measures address issues only after they have become problematic, the solutions are more a remedy than...