The Interruption That Could Cost You $5,500

I once was working with a software client.

Here’s what I was seeing:

The codebase was incredibly complex, in fact, there were only 4 people in the world who could do the math to put all of it together–and 2 of them were in the room.

In order to answer questions and solve problems, the development team was having long meetings every week to sync up. They were also interrupting each other any time they had a question about the code. After all, they needed that question answered before they could move on.

Here’s what I told the CEO:

Every time you have a meeting, the conversation moves its way into a discussion about implementation of a very specific feature. This usually requires only 2 or 3 people to work through and everyone else just needs to be updated.

Every time a developer is interrupted, it can take a half-hour to an hour to get back into the flow of what they were doing. By using a messaging tool, questions can be posted and developers can answer in their own time without interruption. Rarely does anything need to be answered within the hour. Usually, it can wait 2 or 3 hours.

The CEO didn’t like this and mentioned that they needed the long meetings to stay, and the interruptions were just part of the workflow.

Here’s how I reframed it:

On your team, every meeting burns through about 5 man/hrs of wasted time.

Every interruption burns about 2 man/hrs of wasted time.

The meeting is once/week and there are roughly 25 interruptions/week.

You’re paying your developers $100/hr.

That means you’re wasting $5,500 per week.

Why did this work?

Because it was reframed in a language that CEOs speak: dollars.

When you are measuring results by the same axis, you can begin to actually collaborate on solutions.

2 Minute Action

What’s something you’ve been trying to communicate with someone else?

At the end of the day, on what are they being graded?

Do they have to look good to their boss?

Are they motivated by money?

Would they rather have social status or rank?

Find out how they are measuring success and translate your agenda to their language.

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