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Think Slow, Act Fast

Mar 5, 2014
By David Thompson

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

Think Slow, Act Fast

March 5, 2014

Think Slow, Act Fast by Dave Thompson

Have you ever made a decision in the heat of the moment, believing it was critical to show your ability to be decisive or keep things moving? I have, and my decision left much to be desired. When the intended result did not transpire, it called for a course of correction that ended in a cost of time and energy from others.

Recently, a friend shared a phrase that resonated with him and with me… Think Slow, Act Fast.

Initially, the concept seems contradictory as you may wonder how a person can act fast if they are slow to think. Upon further reflection, though, it may be excellent advice to anyone, particularly to leaders. A leader actually may be serving their team better by allowing for thinking and analysis before expecting a definitive plan of action. This is time not only for their team to “think slow,” but also for themselves.

In his book, The Advantage,Lencioni states, “Leaders cannot try to eliminate or reduce time spent in meetings by combining them or cutting them short. When people leave meetings without active commitment around a decision they then go back to their offices and do as little as possible to support that idea.”

The benefit of effectively managing this “think slow” process is most evident during implementation as the energy and commitment of the team becomes fully aligned. Everyone is engaged and focused on the plan due to the fact that it was well-thought out and involved other decision-making participants. The result is an action plan driven by team buy-in, excellent processes, and measureable goals enabling all employees to “act fast.”

What stands in the way of actually implementing this new way of action? Although the question is best answered individually, some reasons (or, should we say, excuses) come to mind:

  • We do not have the time to wait on exhausting all of the potential solutions
  • My leadership capabilities will be called into question if I do not have an immediate answer
  • The team’s view is not as over-arching as my view which will limit the value of their input
  • The issue we are trying to resolve will languish in a committee resulting in no action and lost opportunity or wasted time and resources
  • I may be forced toward a direction I am not comfortable leading, or defending

The excuses are endless but the fact remains… knowledge and insight gained by engaging others in the “thinking slow” process will most often result in the ability to “act fast” and achieve superior results.

Ask yourself, is it time to consider the potential benefits of a “Think Slow, Act Fast” culture?

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