Minutes v Hours

Another channel surf, another talking head. This time former cabinet minister John Reid made a fascinating observation:

“in politics you can win the minutes but lose the hours”

We’ve all heard a phrase around ‘won the battle, lost the war’ and the specificity of this slant is intriguing. I myself have presented, successfully, to Board meetings only to find to my amazement later the granted signature fails to materialise. Such an experience made me realise that you had to plan with your allies for how to confirm victory in the immediate aftermath of a decision your way. There is indeed little point in ‘winning the minute’, ie. having your progression documented only to ‘lose the hours’ where someone who was disinclined nobbles the decision outside the meeting room.

In another literal interpretation, it is possible of course to make a short-term gain only to lose the long-term debate. The main way of avoiding this trap is to have a plan. Work to it, track it, modify it where and when necessary, yes, but take time to document where you are going, with whom and how.

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