Why don’t we do it faster?

8 November 2017 | Business Thoughts , Design Thinking

We could. But we don’t.

Rapid prototyping. Design sprints. Minimum viable products.

In the rush to fail fast, to get everything out there as quick as possible, to start and iterate – iterate – iterate we’re missing something.

We’re missing the time it takes to churn on thoughts. We’re no longer languishing in reading and research periods. We’ve paused deep, thorough thinking and curiosity to replace it with a do-it-now task. We ask lots of questions that address specific analytics but we don’t have the time to ask questions beyond the first why.

Most of us even spend money in order to buy more time.

You know that disconcerting feeling when you’ve been racking your brain for a word, a memory or the answer to something you’re sure you knew and then suddenly in the middle of the night or come morning, you wake up with it jolted into your mind? They say that happens because the brain is resting and the memories are refreshing. In other words – your brain needed pondering time to locate the answer you already had.

Your mother wasn’t wrong – you probably should sleep on it for a night.

Ultimately doing anything at either ends of the extreme is never ideal. If we spend too long without tangible outcomes everything stays a mere theoretical possibility. Focus too much on being lean & failing fast and what you’ll develop is another average product in a sea already brimming over with mediocrity.

If you need any convincing, look at what the fast-world has lead as us to. Fast food. Fast fashion. Fast culture. Fast dissatisfaction. In reaction, it’s even cultivated the opposite to try and swing the pendulum back the other way – the slow living movement.

It’s why we never promote that we’re the quickest, why we provide realistic time frames and why we talk about building minimum loveable products over minimum viable ones. There’s a user focused, human-centric, empathetic difference.

Ideas come quickly, but, like how we used to watch our negatives develop in the darkroom (take them out too quick and they’d turn yellow), it’s good to give ideas some time to soak. Over time those thoughts are then better developed and new ones arise having given our brain space to work on them. We can see them from different angles, we’re able to ask lots of questions, provide them dedicated attention, envision what the pathways might look like going forwards, and, without the restriction of must-act-right-now, allow our thinking to be guided by creativity and considered analysis of the future roadmap.

Though we may still feel unsure (this is nearly always a good thing), we try not to jump to quick fixes or fling ourselves onto a pathway that, sprinkled with a little imagination and time, may have taken us on an entirely different journey. It’s why scientists take the time to research and experiment then validate and go back to the start.

There is to be certain, functions for both fast production, quick decisions (of which I am a proponent and is still very much a part of this process) and slow innovation. I am not advocating that we all slow everything down all the time or that we create a work process which isn’t feasible. But I do support sitting with your thoughts a little longer and being curious. What if you added this? What if we did X? What if we combined Y with Z? How would this change if A happened? What information do we need to make this better? Let your brain simmer with the project for a while and see what comes of that.

What could this look like practically for you? We still use the approaches of our favored models and processes, but we slow them down just slightly. Layered on top of that, we put in place the systems to slow us down on the back end but not necessarily the front. This might be by writing 4 weeks of blog posts in advance, scheduling image content for a month, taking a day off each week, padding your meetings by at least a few hours for brain space, setting the start date for a client marketing campaign in a few months time, adding a couple of weeks of flexibility to your project, or reducing your production by one edition this year and cutting your projects for the year by a quarter.

In a quick-paced world, it affords you just a little longer to ruminate, come back in and edit, pivot or make an improvement before you’ve headed far into a direction that’s going fast to somewhere; we’re just not sure where.

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