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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Time Management

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


August 18, 2014

Time is a precious resource in schools and often a source of challenge. When we understand varying cultural orientations towards time, we can more easily understand the beliefs and values of our colleagues as well as gain flexibility in working with time issues collaboratively. Rosinski offers three cultural dimensions to time management: scarce/plentiful, monchronic/polychromic, and past/present/future.

As you begin today, do you see time as preciously short, needing to be carefully used or do you see a whole day ahead with an abundance of time? Some of us operate from scarcity and some from abundance. This can be a clash of perspectives in meetings and in conversations.

Monochronic is a time perspective where a person prefers to focus on one activity or interaction at a time. Polychronic perspective is the opposite and prefers multiple activities and relationships. Again these points of view can create challenges in collaborative relationships, meetings, and approaches to tasks.

One other perspective is about how we see the context of time. Some have a past orientation and see today as a continuation of the past. Present-oriented cultures focus on today and take a short-term view. Future orientation focuses on a strong vision ahead and long term benefits. In a planning conversation, the coach can often assess a person’s past/present/future orientation through the things the person chooses to consider. A coach must be respectful of the orientation and can stretch the person to consider other perspectives.

As you consider your own cultural views of time, how does this affect the way you work and collaborate? What is the dominant cultural view of time in the group you work with? What perspectives are most productive for your group and how might you enhance those?

Source: Rosinski, P. (2003). Coaching across cultures: new tools for leveraging national, corporate and professional differences. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

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