The crazy prices we’ve had to pay for gasoline in Hawaii have revived a debate I have with my husband every so often:

How much are we willing to pay for convenience, and how much do we value our time?

My husband is one of those people who will drive all the way down the coast line, about 30 miles from our home, just to save a few nickels at the gas pump. Sometimes he’ll take that same drive to trade in cents-off coupons for stuff that’s on sale, feeling he’s finally getting even with a retailer he feels charges too much.

In comparison, I’m one who will pay what hubby considers an exorbitant price for something because it is more convenient, in a single purchase essentially blowing those savings he managed to get over a month’s diligent shopping time. I’m not willing to give away my time to make that same drive he will.

We’ve gotten to the point that our debate is more good-natured fun at each other’s stubbornness than anything else. We both stick to our own habits and are not changing them, and we both know it. We value different things, and frankly, the math that may settle the argument-turned-entertainment is never done to prove our case.

However our last episode of soap-boxing about this over dinner stayed with me the next day, echoing in the recesses of my brain during a conversation I had with a manager over how much convenience in her workplace factored into so many of her decisions. She insisted she had much more important things to do, than take the extra steps which would have turned a short-term bandaid fix into a long-term added-value decision. Frankly, those “much more important” things she justified her actions with just didn’t add up to much more comparative value to me.
It struck me that we probably don’t confront our own intellectual honesty with these questions often enough when it comes to our internal operating processes, and unfortunately, when you’re a manager, these processes can affect a lot of people, and the environment in which they work.

We’re much better at going for value versus convenience in our attitude with serving the customer. We seek to make it easy for the customer, and we seek to make it right, no matter how much we might have to go through to make it happen. Yet there can be quite a double standard internally, going for the easiest, and most convenient way to get stuff done, without taking the necessary time to evaluate just how much value is in any of that stuff in the first place, or how much potential value may have been lost for the lack of effort.

Think about your last week at work, and some of the decisions you might have made because it was just more convenient to take the easy route, or to settle for the short term quick fix. Then, think about those situations which may end up rearing their ugly heads again as a result. If you don’t take the time to do things right in the first place, when will you have time to do them over?

At work, it gets far easier to see how the cost of convenience can really add up.

Just do me a favor and don’t tell my husband I caved on this.

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Humility in the Workplace.

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