It’s a problem that most every organization has to confront sooner or later: How do we get more done in less time?
Surprisingly enough, one of the most effective answers is to slow down first.
As I said, that may seem like an unusual solution. But, taken in the overall context of the approach in my Anticipatory Organization system, it makes perfect sense.
To speed things up, we need to slow things down first.
The Focus on Execution
One of the focal points of the Anticipatory Organization model is the importance of paying sufficient attention to predictable problems and disruptions.
1. Identify Issues before They Become Problems. If you identify issues before they become problems, you can address them in a manner that prevents them from impacting your plans.
2. Don’t Get Tunnel Vision. One problem that exists in the here and now is many organizations’ tunnel-like focus on execution. Put simply, so many of us are so busy executing whatever plans we may have in place that we overlook the value of looking into the future and spotting potential disruption. In a way, it’s like the “forest for the trees” conundrum — your attention to the immediate moment blinds you to most everything else.
3. Embrace Explosive Transformation… It’s a very understandable predicament, but it’s valuable to look at the greater picture. We’re no longer in a period of mere change, we’re in the heart of out-and-out explosive transformation, and it’s happening faster all the time. The most immediate, obvious response for many would be to increase their rate of activity, speed up and try to get things done faster.
4. … But Avoid the Temptation to Move Faster. If you’re moving faster and exponentially in a direction that carries you toward a future that may or may not exist, you’re only going encounter significant problems exponentially faster. Consider: Has the future changed while you’re careening toward one that really no longer applies?
5. Work on Your Business. An old saying has it that it’s important to work on your business, not just in your business. Dissecting that a bit more, it’s valuable to slow down every so often, step back and evaluate where you’re going. Otherwise you may not be moving toward the outcome you’re chasing.
6. Think, Reevaluate, Repeat. The idea of slowing down in order to reach goals faster is important in the context of an anticipatory mind-set. Take the time on a regular basis to think, reevaluate planning and make certain your plans and ideas are aligned with any Hard Trends (those things that are future certainties) or soft trends (future maybes) that will impact your future. As a result, slowing down eventually allows you to accelerate and elevate your planning and execution all the more effectively.
To Speed Up, Slow Down
Here’s an example of how slowing down can accelerate your success. For years, storing valuable data and information in the cloud was seen as vulnerable and very insecure. For many organizations, particularly the security-obsessed defense industry, it was just too abstract. As a result, they shied away from anything to do with a cloud-based strategy.
That was a mistake in several ways. With the exponential speed at which technology is evolving, the decisions we make today might be obsolete or inapplicable in a year or two. In this case, a decision by many that the cloud was insecure only kept them from seeing the shift that made the cloud more secure. That’s because their attitude was derived exclusively from the present state of technology, not what was going to happen thanks to hard and soft trends, among other forces.
Needless to say, their attitude has shifted considerably in recent years. Now, all you hear is, “The cloud is the only place that’s secure now.”
An anticipatory mind-set doesn’t limit decision making merely to what exists. It also incorporates the future, both in the certainty of Hard Trends and malleable Soft Trends.
And to see all that, it behooves you to slow down every so often.
Accelerating by slowing down isn’t a common business principle. But if you see how effective it can be, you may want to learn more. Check out the Anticipatory Organization Learning System at http://anticipatoryorganization.burrus.com. You can also order the book The Anticipatory Organization on Amazon.com now.