Break in the Action
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Break in the Action • Posted: May 25, 2008 16:14:17Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Cultures, generations, ages, individuals all have different senses of time. If we didn't artificially set a standard, there is little doubt the synchronicity of our collective dance would suffer catastrophic disintegration. But that dance is not completely homogenous. And that is a good thing. It is a good thing because the non-homogenous nature of our interrelatedness allows parts of our interrelatedness to break down occasionally without causing the entirety of our society to grind to a halt.

If you've ever watched a long freight train start from a stop, you may have noticed that it actually begins moving one car at a time. As slack in the coupling is taken up with movement of the first car, the second car begins to move with a jerk. And so on down the line, one bit of slack after the other. If it didn't start like that, the train as a whole would never be able to move. And so it is with our societal interrelatedness. There is slack in the system. One or more parts can take a break while all the others continue to grind things out.

However, what is wise is not always appreciated. The current press within management and accounting circles toward increased efficiency by taking the slack out of systems whenever and wherever it can be found is a seriously flawed strategy. It is seriously flawed because any fault or break within the system will cause the entire system to lock up. The current predictable slow-down in the U.S. economy has been greatly exacerbated by a locking up of the credit market due to sub-prime mortgage defaults. With every asset leveraged there is not enough slack in the system to absorb the defaults. Everything grinds to a halt. The world energy, raw material, and food supply systems run the same risk. There is not enough slack in the system.

How can we build slack back into our global system of interrelatedness? The answer might be that we need to take more holidays.

If a company has 100 workers and strives for 100% attendance 6 or 7 days a week, it might reach maximum competitive advantage. But more likely, the entire system will break down due to worker fatigue. However, if instead the company only requires 80% of its workers on a daily basis, it will always have 20% of its workers rested and ready to take over should any of the daily 80% falter. The reliability of productive output greatly improves. Both customers and workers are happier. And stock holders have a more reliable return on investment.

But what happens if a company has only one, two, or three employees? The same principle holds. Slack can be built into the schedule. The overall output will be both more reliable and of higher quality.

The moral? SLACKERS UNITE!! It's not only good for the individual, it's good for the system. Have a wonderful holiday.

Saturday, April 28th, 2007