Speed as a Habit

Speed is the ultimate weapon in business. All else being equal, the fastest company in any market will win. Speed is a defining characteristic — if not the defining characteristic — of the leader in virtually every industry you look at.

In tech, speed is seen primarily as an asset in product development. Hence the “move fast and break things” mentality, the commitment to minimum viable products and agile development. Many people would agree that speed and agility are how you win when it comes to product.

Speed, like exercise and eating healthy, can be habitual.

What are the building blocks of speed?

1- Making decisions

2- executing on decisions. 

Your success depends on your ability to develop speed as a habit in both.

1- MAKING DECISIONS

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.

WHEN a decision is made is much more important than WHAT decision is made.

Deciding on when a decision will be made from the start is a profound, powerful change that will speed everything up.

Fast decisions are far better than slow ones and radically better than no decisions.

There are decisions that deserve days of debate and analysis, but the vast majority aren’t worth more than 10 minutes.

Input from others will help you get to the right decision faster, and with buy-in from the team.

Larry Page was extremely good at forcing decisions so fast that people were worried the team was about to drive the car off a cliff. He’d push it as far as he could go without people crossing that line of discomfort. It was just his fundamental nature to ask, “Why not? Why can’t we do it faster than this?” and then wait to see if people started screaming. He really rallied everyone around this theory that fast decisions, unless they’re fatal, are always better.

2- EXECUTING DECISIONS

Challenge the when.

“Why can’t this be done sooner?” Asking it methodically, reliably and habitually can have a profound impact on the speed of your organization.

You don’t have to be militant about it, just consistently respond that today is better that tomorrow, that right now is better than six hours from now.

Recognize and remove dependencies.

The untrained mind has a weird way of defaulting to serial activities — i.e. I’ll do this after you do that after X, Y, Z happens. You want people working in parallel instead.

As a leader, it’s your job to recognize the dependencies and non-dependencies, and take action depending on how critical the thing is and when it’s due.

Ten times a day I’ll find myself sitting in a meeting saying, “We don’t need to wait for that thing, we can do this now.” That thought is so common. It’s just that people need to say it out loud more often.

Eliminate cognitive overhead

If you can knock out big chunks of a project early, you can reduce the overhead of the remaining parts by 90%. You should always be on the lookout for these opportunities.

You should gently seek to understand what’s happening. I tend to ask a lot of questions like: “Can you help me understand why something would take so long? Is there any way we can help or make it go faster?” Really try to get to the heart of the actions they’re taking and the time they’ve carved out to do it. And if this works, be sure to commend them to their boss.

I highly recommend this over a brute force method of escalating things to the person’s manager or throwing competition in their face. That doesn’t serve them, and they’ll be much less likely to serve you as a result.

Reference : Speed as a Habit

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About Ahmed

Software craftsman, programmer, developer, system/business analyst, DBA and PM.
This entry was posted in Companies, Management, Productivity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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