(MoneyWatch) iCIMS, a New Jersey-based tech company that provides applicant-tracking software, has 250 employees. It's experienced 43 percent annual growth since 2003, according to company materials, but the most fascinating number at the firm may be this: a $5,000 "not to do" prize given for the best example of inefficiencies chucked during the previous year.
"We're always looking for things we can find and kill off," says CEO Colin Day. For the award, the company "finds the stupidest thing we're doing right now and we either automate it, re-architect it, or kill it." One recent example? A laborious process for renewing contracts. Another innovation involved being able to deal with data center problems remotely.
"I love order and simplicity and minimalism," says Day. But he realizes that "as we grow up as a company, we get bloat. An old process that worked when you were a $5 million company, well, now that you're a $45 million company, you just can't understand why you have the same processes."
So smart leaders constantly audit how they -- and their top people -- spend their time. They study meetings and pare down attendance to make sure that no one extraneous is in the room. They minimize recurring meetings, and refuse to be a slave to the 30- and 60-minute time blocks suggested by most popular scheduling programs. Day has five people reporting directly to him. "It's set in my schedule to take up to an hour to meet" on a weekly basis, he says, "but nothing makes me happier than having it take 5 minutes. Then I say, 'Let's go recapture that time.'" If it's possible to have that check-in just by IM, that's great too.
The goal is create open periods of time, either to think or to react to problems that come up. "I don't really do my job as CEO if I've got a packed calendar," says Day. Busyness, by itself, signifies nothing. And as a side note, a packed calendar can keep you at the office longer than you want to be there. Day tries to leave most days at 6 p.m. to get home to see his two young children. "I'm very busy but I've always grown up with the mentality that there's nothing you shouldn't be able to accomplish between the hours of 9 to 6," he says.
Do you have open blocks in your calendar? What should your company stop doing to keep your hours -- and your team's hours -- in check? If you gave a prize for getting rid of inefficiency, what would you reward?
Photo courtesy flickr user Gerry Dincher