What does it mean to be on time?

“The World on Time” is the FedEx vision. What is FedEx’s success rate at being on time? I have found various figures, but even if they hit 99 percent, with 10 million plus packages delivered daily, that means that 100,000 packages are late each day. However, who defines FedEx’s on-time rate? Probably not the same people who work for delivery companies. I seldom seem to ever get anything delivered when I want it. I call up delivery people to have something delivered and the usual refrain I hear is something like: “We can be there between 8-12 or 12-5.” Thus, telling me that because they cannot be more specific as to their delivery time, I will have to waste ½ of a day waiting for them. I would love to find someone who would say “We will be there between 12 and 1.” In our time obsessed world, is the best anyone can do a four hour time slot? Can you imagine if movies or concerts worked on a four hour time slot or a 99 percent rate of starting on time? We would have a lot of unhappy people.

How many of us would love to have the world be on time? Of course, what we want most is for the world to be on “our” time. Few of us really like to be on someone else’s time. Being on time primarily depends on who defines the time. A few years ago Northwest Airlines had a perfect rate for on time departures. In practice, they would simply pull away from the gate, park the plane and call this an “on time” departure. While being on time might seem like an objective reality, it can depend to a large extent on how “on time” is defined. I know people who define being on time as coming anywhere from one hour late to two hours late for an appointment.

What is your ideal vision of being on time? Are you continually frustrated by late people, late deliveries and late arrivals? Would you be happier if the world was more on time? What if it were the other way around? What if no one cared about being on time? Would you be happier if the world was more relaxed about time? Do you think we can have it both ways? How could we go about doing that?

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