ARTICLES - PERFORMANCE

Can You Afford to Slow Down?

We are being consistently bombarded by messages in the media, at work, at home - virtually everywhere -  regarding the imperative to move faster. Think faster, decide faster, schedule every available moment - accomplish more in less time. It's no wonder that stress is the number one health problem in the workplace today. (But that's another newsletter topic.)

The need for speed is causing a battle within me. The independent contrarian part of me is beginning to resent our culture pushing faster and faster - while the logical psychologist part of me recognizes wisdom in the need for decisive, expedient action. 

More than a few times as a consultant I have witnessed the fallout of a disastrous decision made in haste, as well as opportunities lost by moving too slowly. The media is filled with information making the case for speed, so I will indulge the contrarian part of me by addressing the need to balance speed with reflection. 

WHAT'S THE RUSH?

Technology today is increasing our knowledge base exponentially and this is going to continue at an  ever-increasing rate. We have more affluence and opportunity than ever before. But what are the reasons we allow ourselves to be pushed or seduced into always driving in the passing lane?

*Adaptation: 
This is logical. If we want to succeed in today's world we must go with the flow of traffic. Change or become extinct.

*Excitement: 
We enjoy the "rush" of a rapidly changing environment. The brain is stimulated by all this biochemical activity. Life is a contest and we want to win.

*Fear: 
If we're "busy" pursuing our objectives, we don't have to deal with our fears. When we're in action, there's no time to examine how our values are reflected (or not reflected) in our actions. If we slow down - watch out - our thoughts are hot on our heels and we may need to endure some feelings of indecision or "grayness."

REFLECTION - A LOST ART?

How do you use what you "know" (learned via experience) when you don't take adequate time to make 
an important decision? 

You've spent years gaining valuable experience; learning from successes and failures. If a decision is made too rapidly you're missing out on using much of what you individually, uniquely bring to your position. Don't waste the agony you endured developing learned lessons from painful missteps made in the past.

How much time is "adequate time" when making a decision? 

This depends - it could be as little as an extra minute to as much as several weeks. What will the impact be to the organization, the bottom line and to the parties involved if you don't put forth your best effort in the decision making process?

Recognize that: 
You must take some risk in making decisions or the organization will die.  Minimize the risk by using the best decision making process for the problem at hand.

"What if my manager and/or reports get dissatisfied with the amount of time I take to make a decision?" 

They may be right - perhaps you need to compress your decision making process, but they may be wrong and who is going to take the responsibility for the "botched" decision on the new software package or a wrong hire? You make the call.

"If I take the time for reflection, my competitor may get ahead of me or opportunity will be lost." 

That may be true, but slowing down to reflect and USING WHAT YOU KNOW may just give you a competitive edge you didn't realize you had. Sometimes it takes more courage to slow down than to speed up. 

How are you using what you know? 

Consider how you can balance reflection with speed to optimize your performance and demonstrate  responsibility to the bottom line.

There - the contrarian part had its say.

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