Microwaves and crock pots
To borrow a phrase from the pastor of my church, “I seem to be a crock-pot guy in a microwave world.” Everything these days, it seems, has to be faster and faster. I can’t agree with speed just for the sake of speed. Nor do I feel guilty about that. I’d just as soon things slowed down a bit, and I think we might all be a little better off if they did.
I just can’t convince myself that everything in life — or in business — has to be approached with a sense of urgency, even though that’s what a lot of business gurus teach these days. Lots of times, a sense of urgency is listed as one of those qualities necessary to be a successful manager. I understand the concept, but some folks take it too far. Urgency is better than procrastination, but not everything is urgent.
In his autobiography, Jack Welch reflects on his career with GE that “Almost everything should and could have been done faster.” My response is, why? Didn’t he make enough money? Didn’t he build a big enough empire? What would have been the benefit if he had done everything faster?
There’s even a magazine out there called Fast Company . My perusal of a couple of issues leads me to believe that the editorial premise is how to succeed in business — fast! And to do that, you have to be hip, you have to be with it, you have to be aggressive. You can’t slow down, you can’t stop, you can’t reflect, you can’t think it over, you can’t (heaven forbid) sleep on it. Sound bites are good; bullet lists are good. Anything that speeds a process or career is good. Never mind a thorough understanding or analysis. Ride the waves.
Ancient wisdom tells us that for everything there is a season. But the modern addendum would be that the admonition is okay only if the seasons are short.
One of the “ancient” problems in maintenance is that there is never enough time to figure out what went wrong. Just fix it — now. If it breaks again, fix it again. Root cause analysis is great, but who has time for it? It’s not on the urgent list.
When I think about the pressure to speed everything up, I’m reminded of babies. On the average, it takes nine months to make each one. There’s no way to speed that up. If there were, some expectant mother would have discovered it by now. If there was ever anyone with the incentive to speed up a process, it’s a pregnant woman.
New ideas and changes are good. But they don’t all have to be zapped in the microwave. Sometimes, they need to simmer for awhile in the crock pot.