Be Quick but Don’t Hurry – John Wooden
One of my favorite quotes is, “Be quick but don’t hurry,” John Wooden. If you aren’t quick in today’s world, you’re done. If you hurry, things are poorly done or not done at all.
Nothing gets done without urgency. With that in mind, shorter timelines are better than longer. They create urgency – Be quick.
Urgency and Quality:
Shorter timelines enhance efficiency.
Shorter timelines, on the other hand, threaten quality – Don’t hurry. Allow more time the first time but shorten timelines thereafter.
Urgency and Stress:
Shorter timelines increase stress. It’s easy to go too fast and stress out people. Moderate levels of stress enhance performance. But, go too far and performance drops. That’s where Wooden’s wisdom shines. Never hurry when it comes to people. Instead, “Go slow to go fast.”
Go slow with people be quick with performance.
Take time to calm frustrated employees or volunteers who are stressed by short timelines. Listen to their concerns and frustration. They’re frustrated because they want to succeed and the timeline you established seems to block, not enhance success.
Move forward by asking if they think they can meet deadlines. If they say yes, express confidence in them and say, let me know if I can be helpful.
If they don’t think they can meet the deadline, ask what will it take? You may not be able to provide their request. In this case, express confidence and ask them to do their best.
Shorter timelines demand you manage emotions and provide support.
How do you create urgency?
My dad had a saying I really liked: the hurrier I go, the behind-erer I get. It’s true in so many spheres of life!
Hi Vanessa, Great saying. Best, Dan
Good question Dan.
Like many of my thoughts around management in general, I think it helps to ask the people doing the work, questions like, “What time line do you think you could get this done by?’ If it’s sooner than you thought, that’s great and gives some wiggle room if there’s a delay. If it’s later than hoped for, asking “What will it take to complete this by….?”
These questions are on the basis that in general, people are more likely to ‘own’ the time line they set. BUT, if it isn’t consistent with the expectation, it is important to say so and ask what could make it so – appreciating the urgency and pressure and applauding the effort required.
Love your addition to this conversation. Include and engage others if we want buy in…. for sure.
Love your question re: “What will it take to complete this by … ?”
Thanks for sharing your insights,
I agree that shorter timelines are better than longer. Loger timelines make people comfortable and complacent. Shorter timelines make people punctual. I create urgency by giving shorter timelines deliberately to take others response. I know that they will ask longer timelines and that is what I need. When they ask for more time, I analyse their conviction and seriousness, and based on that,I provide them deadlines. I have seen, it works. I believe, unrealistic deadlines create chaos and disconnect people with purpose. Realistic deadlines on other hand, connect people with leader and yield positive outcome. Leaders should understand the urgency that creates eutress is better than the urgency that creates stress. And unrealistic deadline creates frustration and eventually burnout sometimes.
One of the things I’m finding as I explore my new arrival into educational leadership is that people need specifics, and don’t always arrive onto those specifics, themselves. It seems it’s easy to talk about an issue, without taking any action.
It’s still early for me, but I’ve found that if we can get to specific actions, so people know what to do and when to do it, the team gets more done, and feels more comfortable and satisfied by seeing that they can get stuff done.
It’s easy to say, we want to help this student in our school, but without clear actions on how to do it, it get loss. The clearer the actions, the more concrete the steps, the more quickly we can put things into place to benefit kids.
Feel free to count the typos in that post!:)
Joe, I think you’ve hit on something. People who clearly understand what to do get more done.
Truism from military ops – the best way to go fast is to keep a steady pace but manage your stops. I try to help people see that staying at something will get it done quickly, with even pushing at it. Don’t hurry, just stay at it.
I can tell you’ve managed your way through this at least once, Dan.
Coach Wooden’s knowledge of leadership and the strength of teams is on such a higher level than I can ever imagine. Had a number of his quotes posted in my office over the years, all hit home.
Creating (acknowledging the) urgency comes from a common vision and truly it is a time limited opportunity.
Maybe after moving quickly, you take a breather and evaluate what you have done, celebrate a bit and see where to tweak it and carry on…again knowing it is time limited and no amount of study will ever make it perfect.
At times the leader needs to push, to pull, to walk with and also let others lead if the path chosen fits the vision. No easy task that. Knowing which to when is the mark of a sensational leader.
Creating a sense of urgency as Joe M said has to include specifics. In others words communicating a complete purpose for what is being asked. A leader can easily push his weight around with the command of what needs to get done and when but if he takes the time to communicate the whole picture a sense of urgency is more palatable for the follower. The follower still may feel the stress but now understands the reason and or importance for the urgency. The leader then can follow up with questions on how he can help the follower accomplish what has been asked.
I have found that when I have been told the whole story and am asked to reach a certain time line I can accept the urgency as my own because I understand the reason behind the request.
It seems I often throw in something of a wrench. However, I hope it is evident instead, that I mean to be hopeful and positive. i am an experienced truth seeking pragmatist. Once I nail the “issue (the slow part),” I can maneuver a delightful initiative by cutting right through the mountains (the quick and urgent part).
All of the wonderful ideas in this post, I find exciting and easy until people are involved. The ideas of Urgent, Quick, and Hurried often become hopelessly intermingled as each person customizes their impression for “how fast?” “What fast?” “Who fast?” Impressions clash. Misunderstandings blow out of proportion.
In my opinion, success depends upon a collective understanding of what the outcome should be, why this specific action, and what’s in it for me – (why it’s worth it to bear suffering to get there).
What I typically tell people in operations is:
Do things quickly, but not rashly.
You need to make a decision and take action, but don’t “over compensate”. Often, people will make rash decisions to try to speed things up. That never seems to go well.
You know I’m with you! I love how you have framed it: “Slow with people, quick with performance.” In our book Strategic Speed we talk about the two traps into which leaders tend to fall when trying to speed up: overattention to pace, and overattention to process.
Pace and process are important, but if we attend only to pace and process and neglect the people, our efforts eventually grind to a halt. It’s clear, unified, and agile people who make things move.