I never seem to have enough time…
Many functions of business divide time into concrete pieces built around deadlines and deliverables. Too often, business time is considered clock time. Personal contributions are heralded for efficiency to the organization, and production inputs are often measured by “just in time” benchmarks.
Think of business planning, supply chain management, and project management – to name a few. A template, a Gantt chart, or a model of some kind often guides our work and tracks our progress. Dates, deadlines, deliverables, and data can be – and often are – controlling mechanisms. These items are very much “business time,” and I live with a constant sense of chronological deprivation. The Greeks called this notion of time chronos – moments that are sequential and quantitative. Chronos matters; it is necessary to time-manage your business, but is time management your only requirement?
The Greeks fortunately had another notion of time called kairos. This is qualitative time – the idea that time is an in between space where something special happens. Creativity, innovation, and wisdom break forth in kairos moments. These junctures occur during that R & D session or marketing discussion when one gets “lost in time.” Old ways of looking at an issue fall away and you discover a new lens with which to solve problems. Your business group – at the right moment— crystallizes around creative solutions and ideas. Business time is challenged by qualitative time. Kairos upsets chronos.
The in-breaking of a new dimension of time is something wonderful to witness. This experience is the beauty of being an entrepreneur or drawing on God’s creativity to do something new. In a sense, embracing these sacred moments is operating on a new dimension of God’s time.
Have you ever experienced kairos trumping chronos in your business?
How do you and your business encourage moments of meaning, significance, creativity and innovation among the routines and demands of business time?
Ross Stewart is the Joseph C. Hope Professor of Leadership and Ethics and Professor of Accounting at Seattle Pacific University.