Slowing down to speed up

“That which has been done well, has been done quickly enough.” ~ Cesar Augustus

Over and over, we get the advice that we need to go faster.

But there’s a problem with faster. We can’t keep getting faster, faster, and faster; there’s a limit to how fast we can go!

The faster we go, the more risks we take, the less we see the details, and how things are interconnected.

Finally, speed dissipates energy. Traction comes from choosing fewer initiatives and putting more effort into them.

So that’s why I’ve been thinking about how to slow down.

I want to make fewer decisions but make better decisions.

The idea is as old as the hills!

Aesop’s fable, the Tortoise and the Hare tells us that you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than acting quickly and carelessly.

But this wisdom holds in the modern age as well. I found this HBR study that found:

In our study of 343 businesses (conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit), the companies that embraced initiatives and chose to go, go, go to try to gain an edge ended up with lower sales and operating profits than those that paused at key moments to make sure they were on the right track. The firms that “slowed down to speed up” improved their top and bottom lines, averaging 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period.

We want to be efficient with tasks but effective with people. Automate what you can, make procedures to make tasks efficient. But futurist Kevin Kelly really got me thinking when he said,

Most of the things we value highly are inefficient; art, creativity, friendships all require time and creativity. When we optimize for speed, we’re optimizing for the wrong things. ~ Kevin Kelly

So I’m curious, what are you doing that helps you to slow down? How do you reflect on what you should be focused on? How is your work more like creating a piece of art than working on an assembly line?

Hit reply and let me know.

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