In Action, Leaders

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

Almost everyone I meet talks about how little time they have.  They have a laundry list of things to do, and not enough time to get them all done.  It feels like we’re all fighting a constant battle against the clock.

To me, the worst part of that isn’t just that we all feel like we’re running behind.  The worst part is that the stuff we end up getting done is largely what I’d call firefighting.  Dealing with things that come up on a day to day basis, things that aren’t incredibly important but demand our attention right now.  The more important, more strategic things just sit quietly in the corner, waiting for us to get to them – and often, we never do.

So, everyone’s constantly looking for ways to be more efficient.  How do we streamline this process, how do we get this product to customers quicker, how do we get this meeting over sooner, etc.  And we get pretty good at doing this efficiently.  But are we doing them well?

If you manage to finish up a meeting in 30 minutes so that you stay on schedule, but you don’t really address the issues you needed to address, was that really a success?  If you eliminate steps to get things out the door to customers faster, and then those customers aren’t happy with the quality of your product, was that an accomplishment?

Sometimes, in what we feel is a never ending battle against time, we get caught up in trying to do things faster without ever looking back to see what the results were of our increased speed.  If all your conversations with people you supervise take less time, but their performance isn’t improving, are you being successful?  If our turnaround time decreases by 50%, but we don’t grow or aren’t more profitable or whatever metric you want to use, did the changes we implemented work?

I’m not suggesting we don’t try to make the best use of our time.  Our firm quite often gets paid to help people figure out some of those issues, and it’s worth figuring out.  The point I’m trying to make is, don’t assume that because you’re doing it faster means you’re doing it better.  Don’t assume that because you’re doing it faster means it’s even meeting the bare minimum.

You can’t allow the never-ending quest for time to cause the quality of everything you do to suffer.  Whether it’s in regards to customers, or vendors, or partners, or internal issues, if you’re not doing things at a high level, you’ll have to do them over.  When will you have time for that?

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