Impact of Time on Value
Time is typically used as a metric to measure a program’s or initiative’s results and the ‘true’ value that it provides. * It is my belief that to determine ‘authentic’ value, time should be viewed as a tool and a variable that assists in the understanding of the value you plan for and hope to achieve.
- worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact
- conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
- made or done the same way as the original
- the monetary worth of something
- a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something
- relative worth, utility, or importance
- a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement
When exploring the concept of authentic value, the two Merriam-Webster definitions give us an interesting set of words: acceptance-conforming-original and worth-relative return-numerical quantity. When searching for authentic value in an initiative, program, or effort, you require a perceived level of quality. How does this perception come to be? I would posit that it’s one of the most simple, yet most complex concepts ever conceived: time.
What Is Time?
By now we’ve all experienced “Pandemic” Time;” the disorienting sensation which seeped into our lives with the onset of COVID-19. In those early pandemic months, time seemed to crawl ever so slowly along. However, more recently, time has begun to move much faster than what we’ve been trained to consider as the new normal. We all know time is a constant and this feeling of pace is just a mirage on our senses. Or are we wrong?
I suggest that the simple concept of time is actually not as basic as we have presumed. At its most simplistic, time is a basic unit of measure as we move from one condition or situation to another. But from what perspective? As Carlo Rovelli, in his insightful book The Order of Time explains, time is a captivating concept with numerous complex layers. Take for instance that time is not really constant; for example, it passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level. While this is a trivial example, it does show that the concept of time varies depending on where, how, and when you view or assess a situation. Rovelli suggests that there is not a single point of time, but instead, a “vast multitude of them.”
Take, for instance, the person standing on the mountain top. They have an entirely different point of view compared to the individual sitting in a boat at sea level. Consider too, whether you are at the beginning of an initiative or program, versus the end or somewhere in between. These variable perspectives will all have different concepts of time and ultimately impacts the authentic value received.
How Does Time Impact Value?
Traditionally, time has been used as a method to measure value. Time is seen as independent, a variable that stands alone, and isn’t changed by other variables. It typically plays a role in determining the ‘authenticness’ of value. How many days or months did it take to achieve this value? What is the present or future value of the initiative?
Given what we now know about time, why shouldn’t it be viewed as something that depends on other factors, or as a dependent variable in our value equation? As stated before, our own experiences through COVID-19 have proven that the concept or perception of time does rely on other factors. Take the average employee from two years ago. In pre-COVID days, the average employee lived by the all too common workday of 9-5. Society deemed fit that individuals box their work hours into a certain amount of daylight during our span of 24 hours. However, with the onset of COVID-19, society redefined the rules of time. During the last year or more, the pandemic work from home employee is working a longer day than during prior periods. . . Thereby thinking of time not defined as a constant variable, but as a changing one, not deemed by what static traditions or metrics say is the most valuable.
How can you use this lens of time in evaluating value and determining whether it’s authentic? Yes, markets, general supply and demand forces, and even society help define what is perceived as valuable at any given moment, and or what your initiative’s constituents, including yourself, see as being of worth. An analogous example is the price of gas. Time impacts the price you pay at the pump in numerous ways:
- What is the price at the station across the street,
- What are the broader economic indicators for prices in general,
- What is the economic situation of the local area,
- What are the future predictions for each of the above?
All different locations on the mountain. And all time-relevant perspectives.
Through the process of viewing time as a non-constant dependent variable, you canassess any significant initiative, program, or change effort to determine its authentic or true value emphasizing these three time-oriented variables at the beginning, ending, and throughout the effort:
- Who: Point-of-view
- Who are the key stakeholders or judges of the value of your program? What are their perspectives and points of view? Are they standing on top of the mountain, half-way up, or looking up from the bottom? How will they view this initiative throughout its duration? Also, given the range of points of view, you will need to understand how to communicate the value of your efforts to them that corresponds to these different perspectives.
- When: Urgency
- Understanding the impetus for the program helps us understand how much time we have to accomplish the initiative. How quickly must we move to make the value meaningful? If the urgency is not as great, there isn’t as much need to achieve our value in as short a timeframe. An initiative can achieve the same measured value but not be authentic if it doesn’t meet the urgency perspective.
- What: Expectations
- Understanding the expectations of an initiative can also drive how you look at value. Different expectations or aspirations from key stakeholders clearly determine how authentic value is assessed. Knowing what expectations are at different times during an initiative can help shape definitions of authentic value.
In hindsight, the concept of time is not so simple after all. Especially when trying to determine whether the value of an initiative is truly authentic. When taking on a complex or important initiative considering and utilizing time in multiple ways provides a much fuller understanding of the true authentic value of any event or situation you attempt to assess.
“Pandemic Time; the disorienting sensation which seeped into our lives with the onset of COVID-19. ”
"Time is seen as independent, a variable that stands alone, and isn’t changed by other variables. It typically plays a role in determining the ‘authenticness’ of value."
Rodney Mann is an experienced management consultant with a proven track record of advising, initiating, managing, and delivering business and digital transformation programs. His primary focus is at the intersection of strategy, process, technology, and data.
Leading with Value in the Business Development Process
Real Combat vs. Corporate Combat: How Authentic Value Can Transform a Nation
Delivering Tangible and Lasting Value as a Consultant
Imposter Syndrome is Killing Your Brand: 5 Tricks to Get Over It and Get Back On Track
Data Strategies for Customer Engagement: Authentic Growth in the Era of Digital Disruption