I’m in the midst of reading Wait, by Frank Partnoy, thinking of the treasure trove of ideas for blog posts. While I’ll have to take the author’s advice and hold off on many of them for now, I would like to highlight one: Clock Time vs Event Time, and how it relates to a recent article by Tim Williams, entitled “An Obituary for the Billable Hour”.

Logically enough, Clock Time organizes behavior based on the amount of time it takes to do something, while Event Time organizes it based on completion of a project (or ‘event’). The general rule is that you should use Clock Time when you’re most concerned with efficiency, and Event Time when focusing on quality. Need to meet a deadline tomorrow? Clock Time. Do you paint still-lifes as a hobby? Event Time.

While I never thought about it in those terms before, I immediately found myself gravitating toward Team Event Time. I love unitasking, and I like to be able to spend the time required to produce quality. I suspect many architects and designers are the same way.

It occurs to me that architecture might be an Event Time profession shoehorned into a Clock Time fee model. We think of – and promote – our projects as events, yet we bill (or at least estimate) them in chunks of time. To add a little more complexity, salaried employees are aligned with Event Time, and non-salaried are Clock Timers.

In closing, I’ll pose this question: What are you doing in your practice or group to address these seemingly contradictory tenets? How do you find and maintain the right mix?

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