In the non-profit world, the term “time, talent and treasure” has been used so often it is almost at the edge of being trite. It’s used in that arena to describe a volunteer’s sacrifice in support of the non-profit enterprise.
I have been surprised to discover that it seems undiscovered in the business world. So, let’s bend the meaning to help us focus on resources while preserving those words.
Here is a way to think about resource management as we make critical decisions that obligate our personal and corporate assets for growth. Take, for instance, time. I’ve written often about the critical management of corporate time, an asset often squandered by management in inefficient operations that don’t advance the company toward the goal, or worse yet, operations that over-obligate scarce resources creating stress, cost and loss of reputation. “Corporate time” is quite different from individual time management. We should always be thinking of how to maximize the efficiency of our most critical resources constrained by limited time, whether they be in R&D, on the production floor, the chief software architect, or even you in management.
We can always tell when that critical resource has been over committed. The bottleneck created becomes obvious and painful. Is a process or machine too slow to absorb and pass on work coming through it? Is there a virtual line at your virtual door waiting for decisions before proceeding with a task? Is the R&D department being sucked into solving problems for customers instead of developing new products? All of these are critical breaks in the management of corporate time, and as a manager, you must attack quickly and completely to remove the bottlenecks.
Jim Collins, in his book, “Good to Great,” addresses talent by describing the managerial skill of “putting the right people on the bus” and culling out the bottom ten percent of low-performing employees. I’d focus on the former, and to be sure that you’ve trained enough and supplied resources enough for every person in your charge to do an excellent job. And if a person is not able to perform to expectation, then you have a right and obligation to focus upon a solution to what seems obviously as a talent mismatch.
Treasure is obviously a proxy for capital, whether earned or invested. There is no doubt that money is a most valuable corporate resource that can be leveraged by good management, great talent, and effective allocation of corporate time.
Think of it as three opposing forces in a corporation. Poor allocation of time pulls talent and treasure into the void. Ineffective talent draws down corporate time and treasure to correct errors and solve for inefficiencies. And too little treasure causes stress in keeping the supply of the other resources necessary for growth.
Quite different from the non-profit use of the terms, these three linked words remind us of our need to balance our critical resources and make efficient use of each. Time, treasure and talent.