I like to move fast. Not like Ricky Bobby, “I wanna go fast.” More that I want to move fast in my work. Let’s get started, make it happen, move on. We’ve got stuff to do, so let’s get cracking. Here’s the problem, though. That oftentimes means that I miss the better for the efficient.
Getting things done quickly is definitely an asset and has served me well up to this point in my life. However, I heard a quote from Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar, recently. He said, “Efficiency is a goal. But quality is the goal.” For me, that was pretty challenging. We live in 2018 where everything is moving at a ridiculous pace. A 2017 Forbes article says that the skills you learned 10 years ago is obsolete now and of what you learned five years ago, half of those are now obsolete. We’re moving at an unprecedented pace, so speed is a high value in 2018.
However, if we stop to look at the places that are culture-shaping brands and world-known names, they’re not known for their speed. They’re known for their quality. Disney, Pixar, Google, Apple, Nike. Those places are known because they create high-quality products, whether that be stories, shoes or search engines.
So for me, I need to step back and see where I’m sacrificing quality for speed. Where do I need to slow down? How do I need to slow down? Here are 3 ways that I can slow myself down for the sake of quality.
1. Stop, drop, roll back.
I know, cute right? But if you remember your first grade fire safety, it’ll help you work towards quality.
Next time you’re working on a project and think it’s done, before you turn it in, hit save and step away.
Take some time away from it and then come back a while later. I can almost guarantee that you’ll see the project in a slightly different light and see some improvements that can be made.
I’ve found this incredibly valuable for myself. One simple way is whenever I’m rifling off an email, especially if it’s at all confrontational. Now, I’m not saying it’s a big disagreement or anything like that because those are often best handled in person, but even if I’m raising an issue with some proposal, I try to write, step away and then come back and read in a new light. If I don’t take that step to reread, I know there are many times that I could’ve caused a stir because of the way I phrased things or typed out raw thoughts rather than taking the time to examine for quality.
A way that I’ve not been so great in this is whenever I design something. I’m not a great designer, but I enjoy it, so I sometimes get the chance to do some design of my own. More often than not, I run with the first idea that comes to mind, crank it out and post it for review. But whenever I compare my stuff to other designers, I can see it’s not on the same level. Why? Because those great designers take time with concept after concept and revision after revision before they share what they’re working on. They understand that to produce a quality product means taking the time to stop, drop the project for a minute and then roll back with fresh eyes and new ideas.
2. Phone a friend.
No matter what team you’re a part of, I would bet that it’s filled with people who aren’t just one-dimensional. What I mean by that is that your team has people who from 9-5 may be responsible for accounting, but in their free time, they’re a gifted photographer. Or maybe the person who is responsible for writing your marketing copy actually has a side hustle designing websites. At the very least, the people around us have opinions that can be valuable.
And if we don’t feel like we have that rapport with our co-workers, I would bet your friends who are just a text message away would look over your latest project.
And to take that a step further, what about networking and making some friends who are experts in your field so they can help you out.
All of this takes time, though. Asking others for help requires us to take the time to stop our own workflow and bring someone else in. And if you’re truly committed to quality, you’ll probably want to heed some of the advice you get from those people. Revising then takes time. But I promise if you take the time to use those around you, they’ll have valuable insight that will help you get to the best you can.
3. Let someone else do it.
This is making my type-A personality have a little panic attack, but I’m going to type through the subtle eye twitches. Because this is a lesson that I am learning the value of every day. Typically, when I want something done, I just do it myself. It’s easier, it’s quicker. But it’s not always better. Ironically, Ed Catmull also has said, “ease isn’t the goal; quality is.”
And many times when we have something that comes to our desk, there’s someone out there who’s better at it. Now, I’m not saying that you should pass off all of your work to someone else. Chances are that most of the time, we just need to take care of our own business. However, I really learned this lesson while managing teams.
As a manager, it was easy for me to try to win points with my team by taking care of some things myself, and frankly, a lot of times it was easier to do it myself than try to cast the vision for the product and take the time to get everyone on the same page.
However, I am not the best person on my team to handle making videos and designing. We have people on our team that have been hired particularly for those reasons. So when I tried to take care of it, yes it did often happen faster. But the product was nowhere near the quality that it could have been. Instead, when I pause to bring experts in to handle their areas of expertise, the product our team produces is significantly better.
Even in writing this article, I had some minor anxiety about the idea of slowing down. If you move quick like I do, it’s hard to pause or even slow down a little bit. So I hope that when I start to get a little too fast and compromise quality, I remember this article. It’s hard to even take my own advice, but I think if we all do this together, we can find that the pieces we’re turning out take us much further, even if it takes a little longer to get there.