Skip links

Accuracy first, and then momentum (aka Ready, Aim, Fire)

It is so tempting to want to get things done quickly.  But I’m a big believer that it is better to do it correctly, than to do it fast.  Let me explain.

You get hired into a new position (as a leader/manager) and your boss says, “I want you to restructure and come up with a completely new organizational chart in a week.” Or maybe they say two weeks.  It doesn’t matter.

Wouldn’t it be better to say, “I’d like to give you an opportunity to evaluate your new team and will give you all the background information you need.  Let’s touch base in two weeks, and you can give me a better idea of your assessment.”

I can’t tell you how many people get put in the position of deadlines, with no consideration for getting the right players on the bus, and then making sure they are in the correct spots.

A reorganization looks easy when you put it on paper (there are so many programs for designing org charts).  Just move people’s names or departments around until it looks balanced.  But in fact, there are always personality and workload nuances that should be taken into consideration.

Headcount is not everything.

If I was put in the position of taking over a new team, not only would I want to have one-to-one meetings with each person to find out their strengths and weaknesses, but also their ideas (which may not have been considered previously).  When I ran my produce company, I frequently defaulted to “ask the people who do the job” instead of asking other peer managers who likely didn’t know what the real issues were.

Then I would ask my boss, or the company CEO, what are the 1 to 2 to 3 year goals for the enterprise?  Do they want to optimize revenues?  Or improve profit levels?  Are they looking to further expand the customer base, or “right size” the client portfolio?

I am often reminded of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.  It can apply to anything…such as:

  • 20% of your customers yield 80% of your business (so don’t be afraid to fire some customers)
  • 20% of your business yields 80% of your profits (so focus on those 20%)
  • 20% of your employees yield 80% of your problems (maybe some of those employees aren’t a fit)
  • 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your clients (so maybe the problems are not that critical)

You get the idea.

Many times I’ve heard management consultants say, “you don’t want to be accused of “Ready – Fire – Aim”.  It’s better to take aim first, and then fire.

So, next time you are asked to come up with a new plan for anything,  instead of rushing to cross it off your things to do list, how about taking a pause and asking yourself

 – How can I get it done right vs How can I get it done fast?

Getting things right first, and then moving forward always seems to yield less mistakes, less rework and more efficiency.

Onward and upward,

Leave a comment