Stuck in Mediocrity– Business Paradox– ‘Slow Down to Speed Up’: New Normal– Slow Pace Fast Change…

On the surface– Slow Down to Speed– does not seem to make much sense but with a business gone awry how much time is spent in damage control (i.e.; apologizing, blame-games, corrective actions…) to determine the fate of the business…

According to Ken Stewart; tenets of ‘slow down to speed up’ are following a few simple rules:

No More, No Less: Take sufficient amount of time to find new path forward…

Devil in Details: Observe the necessary details and omit what’s not necessary…

Pace and Purpose: Do not allow the pace to overshadow the purpose…

Urgent or Important: Guard against others’ false urgency and don’t fight unnecessary battles…

According to Petrini; going ‘slow’ means you control rhythms of the business; you decide the appropriate speed of the business– if today is fast, go fast… if tomorrow is slow, go slow…

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The critical issue is to determine the correct ‘tempo’ of the business at any point in time… According to a Harvard Business Review study; there are two types of companies; those that quickly embrace new initiatives and– go, go, go… to try and gain an edge but they often falter… and those that ‘pause’ and think through new initiatives at key critical moments to ensure that they are on the right track…

The study suggests; firms that ‘slowed down to speed up’ improve their top and bottom lines and average 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period… It’s all about reframing the idea of slow; taking the time to find the right path to build a sustainable business…

In the article Slow Down to Speed Up by John B. McGuire, Vance Tang write: Complexity is in cahoots with speed and uncertainty… Put together all three– speed, uncertainly, complexity– and the toughest business can falter… Complexity is the No. 1 issue facing chief executives today… according to an IBM study of 1,500 chief executives; the problem is that we’ve bought into the complexity conspiracy: We match complexity with greater complexity, and speed with greater speed.. When feeling out of control, we seek more control…

Instead of the clarity we crave, we get ambiguity and more uncertainty. There is a way to break the stranglehold of complexity: Slow down to power up… That’s right: Slow down now and you will be in a better position to move faster, further with greater purpose later– even when, or especially when, you are staring down the triple threat of– complexity, speed, uncertainty… When leaders ‘slow down to power up’ they can better overcome pressures– complexity, uncertainty– and meet the challenges of a changing world…

In the article Need Speed? Slow Down by Jocelyn R. Davis, Tom Atkinson write: There is a speed gap in business: It’s the difference between the importance of  speed as conceived in a firm’s competitive strategy, and their operational speed with which a firm can actually move…

Organizations that are fearful of losing their competitive advantage spend much time and resources looking for ways to pick up the pace whereas instead, paradoxically, they should actually slow down… Firms sometimes confuse operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (time to deliver value)– in fact, the two concepts are quite different…

Many businesses simply try to increase the pace of execution as one way to try to close the speed gap… But that often can lead to decrease in the customer experience, lower-quality products, and overall loss of value… Likewise, when firms do not take the time to identify and verify a true competitive value proposition but still proceed to market anyway, they usually have a bad outcome…

Firms that ‘slow down’ and make alignment of strategic speed and operational speed a priority are more successful. These firms think through their strategy and are more open to– ideas, discussion, encouraged innovative thinking and allowed time to– reflect, learn… By contrast, firms that moved too fast, focused too much on maximizing efficiency, do not foster employee collaboration and are not overly concerned about alignment, they typically falter…

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In the article Slow Is New Fast; Slow Down to Speed Up by Michael Baer writes: The business world seems to get faster every day– no matter how fast we move, we seem to be constantly in need of catch-up. But in today’s highly competitive business environment,  it’s very important just to slow down: That’s right; slow down… The need-for-speed has taken over business, e.g.; management often– shoot first and asks questions later, they react, respond, and do-do-do… without understanding markets, they take action without thinking, they develop processes that are designed to work on their own (like robotic speed-freaks)…

However, sometimes management must just slow down and press ‘pause’ button… They must think slower in order to work smarter. According to Daniel Kahneman; there are two distinct systems that dictate how people think and make decisions: One is fast, intuitive, reactive… while the other is slow, deliberate, methodical, rational… There are many situations where business must force itself to ‘think slow’… According to an article; business is getting more complex, uncertain, ambiguous… hence, they must become more deliberative in thinking through critical business decisions…

This need-for-speed has many people working alone behind laptops, smartphones… and making knee-jerk decisions… But, many activities demand more deliberate, in-person collaboration with other humans in a room working on the same project at the same time… Since we are constantly responding to situations and reacting to stimuli, we often develop patterns of response that are enabled without thinking. We are run by– rote, not mind… Hence, don’t let a process run the process; don’t let decisions happen mindlessly simply because a process stipulates it to occur…

Empower people to stop the proverbial assembly line when it does not serve the purpose. Don’t let a process drive the speed of the business when the outcome is not satisfactory. Slow it down, make adjustments… then speed it back up again… Sometimes it’s a move that you ‘don’t’ make… and sometimes the best decision is to do nothing… Hence, despite the demanding pace, emotions, passions… sometimes it’s important to slow down and not rush to judgment, or react impetuously, or impulsively… Control emotions in heat of the moment, slow down and deliberate before taking action…

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In the article Art of Slowing Down by Grace Marshall writes: In a business world that strives for high productivity we often talk about getting things done– faster, smarter, easier… But what about slower? Here are several areas where slowing down could in fact improve productivity:

  • Decisions: Fastest decisions are not always best decisions… There are times when you made a quick ‘that will do’ decision that’s ended up costing more to fix, or change, then if you just slow down and think it through…
  • Planning: Activity does not always equal productivity, and busy-ness does not equal business. But there’s still something incredibly seductive about being busy; busy feels productive… It’s only when you slow down and think, that you notice the difference between getting things done, and getting things done right…
  • Communication: They say never send an email when you’re angry or in a rush. It’s so much easier to make a mistake, send the wrong thing to the wrong person, or say something you’ll regret… Slow down and give your brain a chance to catch up with your emotions…
  • Creativity: We are human beings, not robots. Our productivity doesn’t just depend on speed and efficiency. It also depends on creativity, intuition, innovation… and these things need space to flourish. Nothing shuts down inspiration faster than forcing it, so just slow down and take the pressure off and it can be just the thing to get your creativity flowing…

When you do Internet search on the terms– ‘slow and business’, all you get are nothing but words that describe– misery, pain, frustration… and most people associate ‘slow’ with failure, inefficiency, and perhaps worse, laziness… According to Christopher Richards; we love speed; we have speed dating, speed networking, fast food… Microsoft tells us to ‘do more, faster’… And who wants to argue? After all competition is fierce; we’d better be efficient, get there first– be a winner… We are taught to forge ahead,  speed up; the less time we have, more we try to cram… after all time is a non-renewable resource…

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Being fast can be a business’ biggest strength, but it also can be its biggest weakness… Manically rushing from one thing to another is not good for health or productivity. Yes, a certain level of adrenaline can be useful to beat inertia and fire-up motivation, but when stress levels get too high– people make mistakes, make poor decisions, misjudge and misread situations, and are far more likely to get caught up in reactive fire-fighting rather than productively moving forward on what really matters.

Next time your business seems to be losing competitive edge– do something different; slow down and switch gears… Walk slower; Talk slower; Take slower deeper breaths… and notice the return of clarity of thought…