ABCD Model

In everyday life, whether working for a corporation, government, your own business, unemployed or even in the process of studies, time is limited and what you do with the limited time could determine how much success you make in reaching your goals. In my first MBA class, distinguished management professor, Marvin Washington, introduced us – the students – to a model he called ABCD model which outlined categories of the main tasks we spend our time on as managers, leaders and workforce of today’s organizations. The four categories are:

A: Administrative tasks such as filling papers, running errands, organizing work, etc. This category involves any work that is mundane and has be to done for administrative purposes only but doesn’t yield any return and it’s activities are not part of the core business.

B: Building the business which involves any work that advances the core goals of the business. These may include bringing new clients on board, business process improvements to reduce operational costs and serve clients faster, and any other task that reduces expenses and increases revenue.

C: Crisis response to any immediate issues such as customer complains or any other issues that shouldn’t have happen in the first place. Simply put, its putting out fires.

D: Dump stuff ranging from going to never ending meetings with no clear objectives to working on something that have no direct connection with the core business or will not yield any business returns.

It is very common in most business environments to find employees spending most of their time in A (admin), C (crisis) and D (dumb) stuff and little time on B (building) the business. While the latter is why the organization exists and needs in order to grow and generate returns, the other tasks are inevitable but the goal is to minimize the time spent on them to the least amount possible.

The following strategies can be adopted to minimize A, C and D tasks and to maximize and concentrate effort on B; the good stuff.

– Map all your activities to the business vision, goals and purpose. In that way, you can determine those that are critical and hence yielding higher returns

– Categorize the business tasks at hand and determine what is ‘administrative’, core – to ‘build the business’, ‘crisis response’ and ‘dumb’ activities. Make effort to eliminate or reduce the administrative, crisis response and dumb activities.

– Delegate as much as possible. By passing work to subordinates and other teams, you can free time to focus on core activities of the business.

– Manage meetings effectively by setting clear objectives and adhering to the set meeting times. Only attend meetings you have authority and stake in the matters discussed.

– Be proactive and manage risks. Risks if not managed well and on time and can turn into crisis which will consume time and resources. Avoid such pitfall by constantly assessing and mitigating risks. Remember to transfer risks that can be managed by others.

– Measure business inputs (activities) and outputs (outcomes). As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.

I hope with those techniques and the general awareness of the ABCD tasks, next time you will think critically of task prioritization hence focusing on B activities that advance the purpose of the business.

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