You’ve all heard that on the highway speed kills

You’ve all heard that on the highway speed kills. When you drive too fast you put yourself at greater risks of both being in an accident and suffering grave results if that accident happens. And yet, most people speed.

Our world seems to thrive on speed: from microwave meals to sound bites to three-day diets to overnight vacations.

We drink Red Bull or espresso, watch TV on our DVRs, and talk on our cell phones while we are doing everything – all in the name of getting a little more done, in a little less time.

And in our businesses and organizations we want more results in less time, trying constantly to find a way to squeeze a bit more productivity out of each day.

This isn’t an article suggesting we move back to the “good ol’ days,” or even a case for slowing everything down.

I want rapid results too. I want to find ways to increase productivity and get more done as much as the next person.

The point of this article may seem counter-intuitive to you because in many cases, you can get better results faster, when you aren’t in such a hurry.

As you search individually and collectively for quicker implementation and results, you will serve yourself best knowing when to push down the accelerator and when to let the engine coast – or maybe even apply the brakes.

Here are five times when you might want to rest your right foot just a little:

Speed kills creativity. For most people, creativity isn’t like a light switch. So, it’s tough when you call a meeting and ask people to share their creative ideas to a problem “right now”. Have you ever spent a day or two thinking about a situation – and voila – an idea comes to you in the shower, while you’re exercising, getting out or bed or driving your car? You maximize creativity when you allow your subconscious mind to help – and you must allow time for that to happen.

Speed kills problem solving. Teams often meet to solve a problem and, in the interest of efficiency, they move quickly to solution, typically assuming the problem is clear. And yet often the effort ends up addressing a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. More time spent clarifying the problem, and gathering the facts about it, before getting to solution will lead to better results, even if the beginning of the process may seem slower.

Speed kills planning. Most people prefer activity to thinking. And most confuse “activity” with “accomplishment.” More planning is short changed, or not done at all, in the name of speed than for any other reason. If your objective is important enough or your project is complex enough, you will always benefit from time spent in planning – even if it feels like you are going too slow in the beginning.

Speed kills change efforts. Speed brings momentum, and momentum is definitely important to change efforts, but speed gets in the way when you assume everyone is on board, everyone knows what the change is and why you are doing it and more. Not everyone will get on board at the same time. Not everyone understands. Slow down. Communicate more. Answer questions. Recognize that some people need more time than others. Do these things and you will improve the results of your change efforts.

Speed kills dialogue. If you want to develop meaningful communication with others, it won’t happen in the first meeting. And when it does start to develop, time and space are necessary for the deep communication and understanding that dialogue can create. There is a place for a text message or a quick email. But creating deep communication and meaning won’t be created with those technologies alone. Dialogue takes time.

Notice the similarity in all of these instances? It isn’t that speed itself kills; it’s that speed at the wrong time can cause major problems. The key is timing, and remembering that many times you must go slower to go faster in the end.

The reality is that there’s a difference between speed and rushing; between a sense of urgency and hurrying. As a leader and as an individual you must be vigilant to the differences, making sure you are patient enough to use speed wisely.

Potential Pointer: Most people think of speed as a positive thing – something that’s often coveted and desired. Even in our 24/7 world where speed is king and rapid results are revered, there is a place for balance, and a need to recognize that paradoxically speed doesn’t always get you to your destination in the most effective (or even the fastest) way.

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