Several months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Eamonn Kelly, author of Powerful Times, speak about current events and the impact they have on the world. If any of you have the chance to hear him speak, I would highly recommend it.
As he was talking, it occurred to me that his message was really about change. How the world is changing and how we, as individuals, have to change along with it. And of course, no conversation about change is complete without a discussion about the speed of change. It’s not good enough to just change…you have to change fast enough. This means the speed for which individuals and corporations change will be a major differentiator in the new economy.
Let’s take an example. Organizations are constantly being evaluated on their decision-making (aka the decision to change or not change something). Take a second to think about how your organization makes decisions. Is it by committee via multiple meetings after weeks of research? Or is it by individuals who have been adequately trained and given the responsibility and authority to handle matters?
Now focus on the speed with which decisions are made about your product/service, staffing and talent management, customer service inquiries, etc. Again, if you make the decision after weeks of meetings but your competition makes it in days (or just hours)…well, will you be able to keep up with the pack?
Having a sense of urgency and reacting with speed can be difficult competencies to master. Over the years, I’ve found that, to effectively and quickly respond to matters, you need to be good at two things:
Be organized. I love this quote from celebrity chef Alton Brown: “Organization shall set you free.” And it’s true. If you’re disorganized, you’ll spend more time trying to find stuff than figuring out the answer. Let’s face it, no one is buying those massive stacks of paper on your desk with the explanation that “you know where everything is.” Find an organization system for your files, your calendar, your emails and use it. No one needs to understand your system but you.
Stay well read. Know what’s going on in the world. Keep on top of current events. Yes, I enjoy a good trashy novel as much as the next person…but if you’re not staying on top of the news and blogs, you won’t know when to proactively start looking at your options.
Staying current and organized isn’t a silver bullet but you’d be amazed how these two things can help you react with speed when you really need to.