slack is not wasted time but think time.

You might expect that the more time-focused your culture is, the more it will abhor any kind of slack.  Slack is time that is not strictly allocated to a task that is essential to reaching a declared goal.  From the viewpoint of an old-guard industrial manager, this looks like inefficiency.  In fact, such managers were diligent about driving slack out of any operation.  At least from their perspective, the unspoken rule was:

culture killer

Slack is waste.

And yet, the best organizations, particularly those doing creative work, thrive on a certain amount of slack.  It’s during slack time that reinvention happens.  A bit of slack is also necessary to be quick in responding to direct customer requests (everyone is not so busy that the customer has to wait for attention).  And finally, it is during slack time that the culture is discussed and improved and healed.  If everyone is busy 100% of the time, by definition there is no time left for culture.  There is no time left for anything.

The most effective operations are not the busiest ones.  That seems like a contradiction in terms, but it isn’t. 

(See Tom DeMarco’s iconic work on the subject: Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency.)

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