Let’s try a thought experiment.
Imagine two book factories.
Both factories have 10 writers, and both outsource their sales and marketing to external agencies.
Let’s assume the sales and marketing efforts our comparable for both. At first glance, one would expect these factories to perform similarly. But there’s a key difference.
Factory one has a strict 9am-6pm policy. All writers must be at their desks by 9am, work through to 1pm when they can have an hour’s break for lunch, and then work for four more hours until 6pm.
Lunch is a low key affair. The writers, frayed by the long working hours, avoid discussing their work at all costs.
The weekends are a similar story. The writers are overjoyed to escape at 6pm on Friday and don’t give a thought to what they’re working on until the dread that creeps over them on Sunday evening.
Factory two has a different policy. They have no set hours and can come and go as they please.
These writers spend much less time at their desk with most of them averaging two hours work in the morning followed by another hour in the afternoon.
The rest of the day is spent either together or engaged in activities outside of work. With their extra time, the writers read widely, have rich social lives, and spend hours engaged in excited debates about what they’ve working on.
Which factory do you think sells more books?
In my own simulation of this game two interesting things occur.
First of all factory two actually sells more books despite clocking up just 3 hours a day writing time compared with the 8 hours of factory one. The writers may spend less time typing but when they do type their stimulated and rested minds pour words on to the page.
Second, you can probably guess. The difference in quality of books produced is huge between the factories. This doesn’t lead to two or three times the sales, as one might expect, but thousands of times more books are sold by factory two who frequently feature on bestseller lists. The books of factory one often don’t clear the 100 copies sold mark.
The idea is this:
Less time spent working and more time spent both resting and stimulating the mind can lead to a huge improvement in both the quantity and quality of work produced.
Maybe you’ll read this and think “Of course this is the case for writers but surely not for sales people or managers.”
As we enter the age of automation more and more jobs are becoming about creative problem solving.
Good decision making is becoming more necessary than ever.