On Time Arrival

26 Jun 2003|Davis Masten

Since I can’t talk about my projects I’d like to speculate a bit about one of the mega trends I’ve been interacting with to accelerate a client’s top line growth: Time Compression.

I was in Kansas City recently, the trail head of points west. When the settlers and pioneers headed west, their idea of getting to California on time was to make it before the snows hit in the Sierra Nevada or before the gold ran out. Whatever the specific notion, it was a lot more general than the 3:05 landing time I had. The growth of time savings devices like washing machines, dishwashers, portable packaging, automobiles have shifted time relative to convenience.

Fast forward to today. Who do you know who has enough time? Human beings now live in an interconnected world that runs 24/7. Part of this is that as the world increases its global interconnectedness, it is always somewhere on the planet time to go to work. Plus servers and routers work 24/7 and are designed this way. Human beings are not.

I just spent a bunch of time in homes all around the US. Kitchens are now 50% larger than they were 30 years ago. At the same time, consumers have less time to clean. So there is opportunity to bring more and more time-saving devices into the home. Moms understand that in their complex, multi-tasking world that 10 minutes is a commodity. She can do lots of things with ten minutes. Spend time with the kids? Get her work done? Garden? Take a bath? Go shopping for ten minutes longer? There are a myriad of choices. Cooking, cleaning and many other traditional roles lose the battle of priorities of what to do with ten extra minutes. So there continues to be a gold mine for those who effectively mine this vein.

However, I get worried. Einstein said that “time is relative.” Just as the notion of influence of time to the western pioneers was very different than today’s American mother, our sense of time in a global economy is a very disruptive force. Our sense of time in the so called first world is relatively so different than elsewhere. Our ten minute commodity is a totally foreign concept to many cultures. Yet here we come, time’s a wasting.

The first world represents only about 20% of the world’s population. Time is relatively different elsewhere. It is less driven. 24/7 is hard to relate to in many parts fo the world. We have an amazing opportunity – in the trillions of dollars – to keep time at a relatable relationship with mankind. While we should all have more quality time with those we love, it is up to us to design a world where we don’t need catch phrases like “quality time.” We have it in our control to make time serve us instead of us increasing our time to become servers.

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