LISTEN TO EPISODE 82
"In a recession, things have to change fast. But change takes a lot of trial-and-error. So you want to 'fail fast and fix fast'. The path to progress is littered with failure. That's why trial-and-error is a sign of progress. But here's the problem: In a recession, no one wants to blame. So they play it safe. They're looking for a perfect answer. But in an economic crisis, there are no perfect answers. There are just the best answers at that time.
When executives panic, they freeze. It's called 'analysis paralysis'. They procrastinate and wait things out. Now, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be very analytical, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't be a careful planner. But I am saying that the sooner you can act, the sooner you're going to figure out what works and what doesn't. When you fail fast and fix fast, you're making progress daily. Incremental progress is the result of failing fast and fixing fast.
In the military, they have a saying 'shoot, move and communicate'. The business equivalent is 'act, adjust and communicate'. You don't want to act on your emotions. You want to act rationally, but don't over analyze.
Carpenters have a saying: 'measure twice and cut once', but companies tend to measure three, four, five times, and then they try to reach consensus. In a financial crisis, 'consensus' is really hard to reach because everyone's hedging their bets.
When you take action, you actually enable more meaningful analysis and planning. You see what works and what doesn't and you can test out your theories. Now, you can start making adjustments and fix things fast. Just fix the things that didn't work and factor those learnings into your ongoing analysis. Keep analyzing, but analyze action. Don't model theory. Don't get analysis paralysis.
Now communicate. Communicate up, down and across the organization. What's working, what's not working, what's the plan now? People are looking for direction and in the absence of direction, they're going to scatter in different directions. So 'act', 'adjust', and 'communicate'. And people will focus their priorities. Those priorities become clear, processes improve, and progress becomes much more evident. So act, adjust, and communicate. And the inevitable trial-and-error that accompanies all change will be more manageable, more motivating, and more timely."
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