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Friday, August 21, 2020

Lean Quote: Leaders Need to Slow Down to Speed Up

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.  — Rollo May

I think it makes more sense to walk slower and use our eyes and brains in those moments.

It has never been more important for leaders to learn from and respond quickly to economic, political, and competitive changes. In a world where change is constant, that response must be rapid and inspiring.

To lead effectively, one must simultaneously maintain visibility of both the details and the Big Picture. Leaders must constantly find ways to optimize their own efforts, as well as those of their teams. This is easier said than done, and unfortunately, many leaders get caught in cycles of working harder…not necessarily smarter.

Slowing down and putting the right systems in place will mean you later go faster than you could ever have imagined. Being organized makes you go fast. Running around trying to do 100 things at once does not make you go fast.

The idea of going slow…to go fast has been around for ages. The core struggle comes from the dichotomy between “Knowing” and “Doing.”

Intellectually knowing something is one thing. Actually, doing something about it is a completely different beast. Knowing requires wrapping your head around something, which most of us can do relatively easily. Doing requires a shift in behavior to act in new and unique ways. Often it takes leaders some time to build new habits around slowing down, and coaching tends to expedite the process and learning curve. This notion of going slow to go fast is critically important for leaders (and businesses) to understand and leverage though.

Business leaders should pause to focus on strategy refinement and iteration across the company. Working together with the management and finance teams, companies should identify its current strengths, understand and fix any potential problems, evaluate various opportunities for growth, and forecast any threats in current and potential markets. It’s also critically important to build in time to listen to customer and employee feedback: Does your company know who its most important customers are? Are your employees aligned with the company’s mission and goals?

By deliberately slowing down and taking time to reflect, think, plan, focus, and refine, businesses can avoid the pitfalls of moving too fast and enjoy long-term sustainable growth.

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