Having worked for many organizations and have now become a startup entrepreneur, today’s business mantra is that all organizations need to change, and more importantly, that change needs to accelerate.
If you don’t speed up, you’ll be “run over” by those that were behind you that are moving faster than you are or you’ll get left in the dust of those that you were following.
If you don’t speed up, you’re basically “done for.”
However, all speed and no direction is cause for concern, so there’s a problem with this need for speed when you hit the sound barrier.
When most people think of the sound barrier, they are reminded of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the X-1 aircraft on October 14, 1947. But I’m referring to different sound barrier, especially when it comes to business, the barrier I’m referring to is the barrier of sound judgment.
From a thesaurus, sound judgement is defined as: the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions.
There are basically three areas which should be considered when defining the sound judgment barrier:
- Process: Fred Brooks in his book The Mythical Man-Month came up with the saying that describes a process, his comment was: Nine women can’t produce one baby in one month.While Brooks refers to this as a project being late and management wanting to throw more resources at the project to get it done, in most cases throwing money is just wasting resources. This is especially true in more complex projects that involve many people, it is probably not applicable to digging a ditch where throwing more shovels results in getting the job done. Speeding up the pregnancy process can adversely affect the health of child in the womb. In most cases, you can positively affect a process, but at some point you can also go beyond the sound judgment barrier. The space shuttle Challenger accident is a good example, “The Commission also concluded that there was a serious flaw in the decision making process leading up to the launch of flight 51-L.”
- People: The myths of the demographics of people (old vs young, men vs women, etc.) make a difference in terms of “productivity.” When I was around 20 years old I had a much older lady tell me that while I had 10-15 years of memories to “search” through, she had over 60, therefore her brain’s “search” capability took longer, that’s why she was “slower.” Made sense to me. In Newsweek’s article The Golden Age of Innovation states, “According to data from the Kauffman Foundation, the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55-to-64 age group, with people older than 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34. And while the entrepreneurship rate has gone up since 1996 in most other age brackets as well, it has actually declined among Americans younger than 35.” The fact that most “hip” entrepreneurs get more noticed than older entrepreneurs indicates bias in reporting. But here’s an article at Monster.com that is a good read, What Older Workers and Younger Workers Can Learn from Each Other.
- Profit: “I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice, therefore, I will engage in no transaction that does not benefit all who it affects.” Napoleon Hill. If all you intend to go after is money, which is the end results of providing goods and services to a customer, then you’ll ultimately fail in the long run. In an effort to “make the sale” you over promise and under deliver.
Causes of this need to break the sound judgment barrier are:
- Greed, arrogance, love of money, win/lose mentality, the love of power, selfishness, ego, narcissism, and probably a host of other issues.
When it comes to the need for speed there are good reasons for wanting to go faster and competition can be one reason, but it is your customer that makes the deal, not your competition, so ensure that you throttle back your efforts so that you don’t break the sound judgment barrier.
I use the analogy of flying in an airline and the cabin decompresses. The stewards and stewardesses all tell you to “put the O2 mask on yourself first, THEN put it on your kids (or others).” This is how I apply my efforts to my life. To work hard for myself first, then I’ll work to provide help to others. I am my brother’s keeper. That way, I won’t enter the speed trap of bad judgment with my business decisions.