Going slow – is that a healthy business response?

 “Motors going slow”

I am going slow on my walk. I’m inspired by this orange and white beauty parked in a driveway. The owner did tell me the make and model and the name of the specific paint colour but I wasn’t listening properly (I had to look it up later). I was just in awe of this beautiful beast crouched on the block paving.

I did focus though when he enthusiastically mentioned that it’s got 450 BHP under the bonnet! Seriously, those American car-makers are nuts! 450BHP and a national speed limit of 55mph! The words that come to mind are:

“Damn this traffic jam……. it hurts my motor to go so slow.” (‘Traffic Jam‘ © James Taylor)

Which reminded me that it’s been the season of air shows along the south coast and I’m sure I spied a Vixen in amongst the Hurricanes and the Spitfire droning overhead. I’m not an aviation enthusiast but we did have a defunct Vixen in our school grounds (I’m not sure why). I remember being impressed by how much of the aircraft was engine, two engines in fact. Somebody once told me that the American pilots were underwhelmed by the Vixen as despite having ~30,000 HP at its disposal it needed to be in a dive to get up to Mach 1.

“Why is your aircraft, with two such large engines, going slow?” 


Where is this going?

It’s the time of year when everything seems to slow down. To my mind it should be possible to get more work done when there are fewer people around. People create interference for those around them. ‘One-to-many’ emails, chatting about life events, calling meetings where everyone is invited so no-one misses out…

But in fact it all seems to slow down. Endless chats comparing holidays, decision-makers not available, the people the decision-makers rely on to inform their calls are not all present…

 It’s a bit like that principle in fluid mechanics (Bernoulli) where when the pipe or channel  gets wider the water slows down even though it has more room to move….

 So I’m wondering how, even when we reduce the level of interference in work, the pace of business  life is going slow?

My sense of this is that reducing the number of people around disrupts the decision-making process that has evolved and that in turn hinders the whole business. This is an unwelcome reduction in productivity and resilience for many businesses.

  •  Do you really want the business to run at half speed when 20% of the workforce is absent?
  •  What would you do if you needed to reduce costs and reduce staff? Would your productivity increase or decrease?

 I think it’s worth looking at how your business responds to reductions in staff availability, particularly around decision-making.

 “Why is business going slow?”

Enjoy the last week of summer holidays.


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