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Today’s aduio is 16:22 minutes long.
Speed. We can’t get enough of it.
We want faster computers. Faster cell phone service. Faster Wi-Fi.
Patience is a relative thing. We can adjust our expectations based on a single experience. If you’re old enough to remember dial up Internet when we had to connect to the web via a modem, then you remember what really slow connections felt like. But once you experienced a higher speed connection, you were ruined. You couldn’t happily go back to dial up ever again. And if you couldn’t afford higher connection you were utterly dissatisfied with your old service.
It’s remarkable how quickly we adjust for speed.
It’s noticeable when you get on some open stretch of road and find yourself going 80mph in a 70mph zone. It doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast. You take some pressure off the gas pedal, slowing your speed back down to 70mph. Now you feel like you’re crawling. Eighty didn’t seem so fast, but 70 seems really slow.
This makes speed addictive. Now you wanna go 80 all the time. And before long you’re dissatisfied with 80. Ninety becomes the new norm. And the process just keeps going until we hit some very uncomfortable limit, or until we get an enormous speeding ticket. Hopefully, either of those happens before something far deadlier does.
I’m a speed freak. Not so much in driving, although I do tend to drive fast when I can, but when it comes to business and problem solving.
Speed is an asset if it’s used properly.
Simplicity. Seems most people long for it, but can’t find it. I hear people talk about how they’d love to find a simpler way to live, including getting rid of all the clutter in their life.
We’re over run with stuff, doo dads, gizmos and gadgets. The sheer volume of electronic clutter in our heap of unused stuff is pretty amazing. Old cell phones, computers and tablets. Devices we once thought we couldn’t live without. Now they lay dormant in some closet because we can’t bring ourselves to throw them away.
We feel complexity all around us so it’s understandable that we long for simpler. It echos in our speech.
“Just cut to the chase.”
“What’s the bottom line?”
“Give me the gist of it.”
Mostly, we want to know the overarching thing, the big point or the one thing that really matters. Make it simple. We all want that.
Simple is powerful. We can get our head wrapped around it, embrace it and do something with it.
Speed + Simple = SUCCESS
Higher human performance. That’s the objective of our work as leaders. Today, let’s think about speed. In session 30 we’ll talk more about simple.
Most of the time we’re under some pressure to produce higher results faster. I don’t much care about Wall Street and the pressures thrust on Fortune 100 CEO’s. I care about YOU. I care about the pressures you’re under. The pressure to meet payroll…again. The pressure to generate more revenues. The pressure to cut costs. The pressure to negotiate a more favorable lease. The pressure to move your warehouse. The pressure to fill a vacancy for a key position. The pressure to write another report by Thursday morning. The pressure to fix a problem that is spiraling out of control.
Sometimes there’s just not enough time to sit back and ponder. Most of my clients don’t have the luxury of much pondering time. I’m betting you can’t remember the last time you had time to just sit quietly at work and think. Phones are ringing. Text messages are coming at us like NFL linebackers. Email just never stops. Hey, do you remember when you actually got OFF work? Me neither. We’re now working 24-7-365 because we’re plugged in and always online!
Don’t panic. I’ve got some ideas. You knew I would. 😉
When you move faster than you thought possible, you _______________________!
What do you want to put in that blank?
Some of you want to put “get more customers.” Others want to put, “solve more problems.”
Still others want to write, “get to rest awhile.”
I’m going to encourage you to go ahead and put whatever you want in that blank. Anything. Yep, anything at all. Let your imagination run wild. That’s fine.
I used to have teenage kids. They’re grown now, but I still have vivid recall of urging them to do their school work or some other important work.
Why don’t you just go ahead and finish it and get it over with.”
I’ve said it at least 10,000 times. Because it’s true. It’s right. It’s just one advantage of speed. Speed is positively affected by being proactive. Stalling, delaying and procrastinating are all enemies of speed. Rarely do they pay off. And there’s a simple explanation why.
Most of our decisions and actions are reversible.
Okay, think about this. What’s the last decision you made that was irreversible. And I’m not talking about some final decision that was the result of morphing countless other decisions. I’m talking a once and done affair. You’re faced with a choice and you make a choice knowing there’s no going back. No possible way to fix it if you get the choice wrong! Can you remember the last time that happened?
Would it surprise you to know that most people can’t remember such a decision. Some even confess they’ve NEVER faced such a choice at work. Eureka! We’re onto something big. Really, really big.
If that’s true. That most – if not ALL – of our decisions can be reversed if they prove wrong, then what are we waiting for? I’ll tell you what you’re waiting for. You’re waiting to get it more right. You’re waiting to get it closer to perfect. You’re waiting to find some comfort in making a choice that won’t make you look stupid. You’re waiting for some reason that likely has a lot to do with your concerns for how you appear to your staff, your boss or somebody else.
You use the excuse of needing to collect more data. I’m not slamming data collection. It’s vital, but we both know that complete data is nearly impossible. We also know how valid the 80/20 rule really is.
80% IS good enough.
I’ve operated enough businesses and organizations in my career to know that we can achieve 80% accuracy of data (call it information or anything else you require to make a sound decision) pretty quickly. In fact, in many situations we’ve got 80% accuracy of information at the time the question or decision making crossroads first appears.
The time required to fill any portion of the missing 20% can extensive, delaying our action. Failure is often lurking in that delay zone!
Nothing beats doing whenever we’re learning a new skill. Want to learn to paint? Then start painting. How about playing an instrument? Ditto. Start playing. Sure, you’ll suck at it at first, but the more you do it the better you’ll get.
That metaphor doesn’t quite hold true though when we’re talking about you making decisions at work. Because you already know how to do a million things related to your work. You’re not starting from scratch like you would be if you were learning to paint or play an instrument for the first time ever! You’ve already got a bag of tricks, skills and resources in your arsenal. So how poor is your first quick decision likely to be? Go ahead. Rate what you think it might be.
Did you answer with anything lower than a 7? I’ve done this a lot and most people say, “Seven.” Seven out of ten for a super fast decision. That’s a 70 for you students out there. Man, that’s a D. That’s awful.
No it’s not. You’re not in the classroom. You’re in the real world. And unless you’re a surgeon or an airline pilot, 70 is really stinking good. It’s especially good when you realize that if you took all the time in the world and got data as perfect as you could realistically hope to get…you wouldn’t likely be able to reach any higher than 90. Once again, those extra 20 basis points might take you days or weeks or months.
Here’s the reality of things. Let’s say you make your first decision very quickly. And let’s go with your likely answer of 70% effectiveness (or whatever other measurement you’d like to use…pick a terms you prefer other than “effectiveness). Now, let’s assume you realize your first decision wasn’t so great after all and you want to course correct. How long is that likely to take? Will you know within hours, days or weeks that your first decision could be improved upon? Sure.
Okay, now you’re facing that second decision. The one where you’re going to course correct. How long might that take? Sure, it depends on how quickly you notice the poverty of the first decision. But let’s say it takes a week before you really see clearly that your first decision sucked. Now, how long do you think you’ll take to make your second decision? A day? Two? Three? Let’s go with 3. So now it’s been 10 days since your first decision. Tack on a few days prior to your first decision being made. We’re now up to about 12 or 13 days since you were tasked to make a decision or choice. Stay with me because this is important.
Now, in 13 days you’ve made 2 decisions. Decision #1 was graded a 70. How high will you likely grade decision #2?
Again, if you’re like most – average – you’ll likely feel your second decision will be a 90 or higher. 12 days to get to a 90.
Here’s the magic of speed. Most people report to me that if they took a week to make that first decision they don’t really think they could improve the outcome by anything substantial. Naturally, some decisions garner a higher score more quickly than others. Not all choices are created equally. However, when people consider their most challenging choices and decisions, they confess they usually have all the information necessary to make a decent decision. Decent decisions tend to be gauged at 70 or higher. You might call these choices, “Good enough.”
If that’s true, then a week produces a result typically no better than a decision made within 2 days. In some cases, leaders report that an almost instant decision can garner a 70. In that case, 2 days have been saved minimum. At most, an entire week has been saved.
Virtually everybody agrees that a single decision is improved if it can be quickly course corrected. So perhaps a smarter strategy is to make that first decision as quickly as comfortably possible. Be responsible. Get the information you need to make that first decision just as soon as you can. Then, keep your eyes fastened on it and as soon as you can, make a course correcting decision to improve on that first decision. You’ll likely have achieved a SIGNIFICANTLY higher result than if you had delayed the first decision waiting for a more opportune time.
This isn’t about making reckless, thoughtless or impulsive decisions. It’s about not getting hung up thinking that in another day or two or three, that you’ll be armed with any better ammo with which to fight. Engage the enemy right where you are because more often than not, the enemy is time.