Fast Speed. Wrong Direction.
I was recently at a gathering when one of the attendees shared this story. Shortly after the speaker was named as a leader in a new company, he held a meeting with his direct reports. He was clear that they needed to be more efficient and better at implementing the latest initiative the boss had devised. He set some pretty tight timelines for the work to be done and left the meeting.
Shortly thereafter, one particularly brave member of his team walked into his office, put a folded piece of paper on his desk and walked out. He opened the paper which said, “Going fast in the wrong direction is not efficient nor effective.” The boss took a moment to analyze his initiative and determined he needed to go back to the team to determine if he really was taking the team in the right direction.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits made the same point in a recent blog when he stated,
Exerting more effort doesn't help if you're on the wrong trajectory.
- Working harder on the wrong thing just wastes more time.
- Learning more from a biased source will lead you further from the truth.
- Doubling down on a toxic relationship only sets you up for more headaches.
Before you try harder, make sure you are walking a path that leads where you want to go."
In today’s busy world, it is easy to get engaged in getting the job done even if it is the wrong job. It is best to slow down and ensure that the work you are committed to is worth doing. That pause can be very valuable.