I really enjoyed this recent article in the Harvard Business Review on the acceleration trap and how corporations often take on more than they can handle when faced with intense market pressures by increasing the number and speed of their activities, raising performance goals, shortening innovation cycles, and introducing new management technologies or organizational systems at a furious and frenetic pace until employee motivation is sapped, the company’s focus is scattered in various directions, and exhaustion and resignation blanket the company which enters a rapid downward spiral.
It happens more often than one might think. And even if it doesn’t bring a company down, it can bring down a department. The worst scenario is when a company, after waiting, waiting, waiting almost forever to upgrade antiquated and failing systems decides it is going to do a big-bang upgrade in record time and decides to go, go, go before anyone plans, outlines, or even thinks about what they are doing. (There’s a reason that at least 70% of technology initiatives fail to some degree. This is usually it.) That’s why sometimes the best way to speed up is to slow down, take a step back, figure out what’s important and needs to be done, develop a plan of action, and then attack it with zest, but not so much zealousness that all of the employees will burn out before it’s done and success is achieved. Otherwise, you might be the next FoxMeyer.