From the Editor

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Managers in health care repeatedly confront the reality that there is not enough time to be thorough in doing everything that needs to be done and to give proper attention to every problem that arises. Even with a full appreciation of the importance of giving a particular problem, assignment, or crisis all the time and attention it deserves, the inevitable pressures that encourage corner cutting often triumph.
The manager who believes in dong the best possible job is under constant time pressure. Often the pressure is so subtle that the manager is barely, if at all, conscious of its presence; sometimes the pressure is so evident, so all-pervasive, that it looms as the single overwhelming influence on behavior.
One cannot be blamed for occasionally, perhaps even frequently, bowing to the pressures of time. However, the occasions when one does give in to such pressure often turn out to be the times when things are most likely to go wrong. A problem may be treated lightly because there are a dozen other matters vying for attention, but later it returns to haunt the problem solver in the form of a larger problem.
Time and again a matter that was not thoroughly addressed on initial handling requires even more precious time to resolve. There never seems to be enough time to address a problem thoroughly, but somehow, when one is forced to find it, there is usually time available in which to “fix it.” One might be only vaguely aware at the moment that the “fix it” time is made available only at the expense of other important tasks.
There is an old proverb, “By losing present time we lose all time.” A moment past is gone forever, but whether it is truly “lost” depends on whether one feels that something of worth was accomplished. To the health care manager, the measure of worth of any expenditure of time is directly conveyed in 1 familiar word: priority.
Consideration of time reveals the major hitch in most of the good advice manager receives in management development classes and from management literature. Doing something “right” invariably takes more time than giving it the once-over-lightly approach. For example:
Time has other effects as well. As time progresses, very little remains unchanged. One comes to feel comfortable with a problem-solving approach or with one’s own technical knowledge, and then something happens to alter the nature of the problem or expand the scope and extent of technology, necessitating both learning and change. In the words of Antoine Rivaroli, “Opinions, theories, and systems pass by turns over the grindstone of time, which at first give them brilliance and sharpness, but finally wears them out.”
Regardless of advances in technology and frequent changes in the environment, the manager who is constantly aware of priorities is best positioned to cope with the pressures of time. The manager whose attention is usually focused on today’s most important task is halfway there in that he or she is doing the “right thing.” It then remains for the manager to be sufficiently conscientious and thorough to do the right thing right the first time, thus is time brought under control.
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