When slow & steady beats the quick fix

2018-08-02T17:21:42+00:00August 2nd, 2018|
Tortoise

There are no principles operating here, just gusts of wind.

Printed in a recent USA Today, this description of a famous figure comes from Robert Epstein, an American research psychologist and a former Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today. Can you guess who he’s talking about? Why POTUS of course – Donald Trump.

I’m no fan of the American President but I have to admit he’s a fascinating character. Epstein suggests that Trump is driven by audience reaction; when something he says gets a thumbs-up from his base, he’ll be guided by their applause. It’s all moment-to-moment stuff, not at all based on a set of values or beliefs.

With a reputation as a deal-maker, Trump is now applying his business brain to the complex problems facing the world. With typical bravado, he’s taking a sledgehammer to convention in order to fast-track what he sees as a solution to a problem – rip up and replace is his mantra.

If Trump were to try to lose weight, I can’t see him fighting the flab through a 6-month programme of healthy diet and exercise. He’d opt for surgery!

But there’s a problem with the quick-fix approach – it traumatises the body and leaves a scar.

Consider things like trust and loyalty, key components of a strong workplace culture. They take time to build (and seconds to destroy). Sending a “good job” email every 3 months and paying for an annual knees-up at Christmas time doesn’t really cut it. Little and often is better; recognising the small contributions employees make on a daily basis and, to quote a phrase popularised by Ken Blanchard, “Catching people out doing things right.”

As with cooking, you can’t flash fry everything – slow roast, simmer on a low heat, marinate overnight. Good things take time. Invest in the future.

Great results come from patient preparation. If you’ve ever decorated your home you’ll know how vital it is to prepare the surface before you apply the posh wallpaper. It’s not glamorous but that behind-the-scenes labour is the unsung hero that produces the end result.

The people who do the deals and bring in the money often get the glory. But it’s the diplomats, the administrators and the secretaries who do the groundwork and pave the way for progress.

Short cuts are tempting for those who are busy or impatient. But they rarely produce lasting benefits and simply create their own set of problems.