Slow Down to Go Faster
I have a bad habit of moving too fast in sports. What’s that? Why is too fast bad?
• My golf swing– Too fast, which causes me to pull back from the ball creating an amazing slice. (I swear, with a little more loft, I could get the ball to land back on the tee!)
• My volleyball swing– Ever try hitting a ball that’s still a foot above you? It looks even more ridiculous than it sounds.
• Running– I come out of the gate way too fast on every run. And then end up limping back home. Every. Single. Run.
We’re in a world that places emphasis on fast. Everything is supposed to move fast. Our internet. Our cellular connection. Business deals. But fast can cause problems. Sometimes, the solution is to slow down… In order to go faster.
The Death of Thinking Time
At some point, business culture has decided that thinking time = idle time. If someone isn’t in a meeting, buried in a spreadsheet, or on a call, that person isn’t being productive. Imagine your boss swinging by your cube: your notepad is out, computer screen is dark, and you’re just sitting there.
“Bob,” your boss says, “What are you doing!?” You start to sweat. “I’m thinking about something, boss…”
If your boss’s response was, “Get back to work,” I’d venture a guess your team’s rate of failure is higher than others. (By the way, bosses who are reading this, a great response is, “Need me to be a sounding board?”)
Fast Isn’t the Enemy
Let me clarify: fast isn’t the real enemy. Technology enables us to move faster than ever, and we should be taking advantage of that. But the sequencing of when to go fast is the problem. Meaning: we tend to move too fast too soon. The phrase, “Going back to the drawing board” is usually said after failure. But the real problem? We never started at the drawing board to begin with!
Knowing when to go fast when you’re actually ready to go fast is the key to success! Helpful hint: the time to go fast is not in the planning/early stage of a project.
Training to Go Faster
Training to go faster seems simple enough, yes? Just go faster! Sadly, not the case. Think about running– taking your mile pace from 12 minutes to nine minutes doesn’t seem that hard on paper; it’s only shaving three little minutes off a mile. How hard can that be? Just get out and go! The problem is, this approach will cause you to either: get hurt, give up, or, throw up.
The same is true for our approach to IT work. We can’t just mandate a go-faster approach. We have to train for it. Prepare for it. Our company has a simple motto: slow down to go fast. We do a lot of prep work in the early part of a project. This reduces mistakes (in which we’d have to pause the project, course correct, and then spin the project back up), eliminates disconnects and sets expectations and priorities.
The enemy of fast isn’t slow. The enemy of fast is jumping right in without preparing. Will the preparation work slow things down in the early phase? No question! But over the course of the project, you’ll save time yourself time and costly mistakes by doing the heavy thinking in the early phase.