Slow is fast, and fast is slow. Excellence happens drip, drip, drip. Change takes time. Choose effectiveness on the journey to excellence and take the time to do it right.
Effectiveness (direction) and efficiency (speed) are two critical components of change. However, in the thick of things, we lose focus of the long term and try to change “efficiently”. During my tenure as a change agent, one of the main gripes of those trying to change is, “Why does it have to take so long?” My answer always is, “It just Does.” There are no shortcuts to change. Quick and easy may be tempting, but slow and steady win the race. Unfortunately, we often kill the goose to get the golden eggs, and the change fails.
I think that one of the reasons why lasting change takes time is that, as human beings, we are programmed by our experiences that is called subconscious or culture. When new information goes from conscious to subconscious, it bounces back and gets rejected. We crave the familiar and like to maintain the status quo. We take refuge in what we know and don’t want to go into the unknown. Unconsciously, we equate the status quo to safety and change to risk. So we keep going back to the old ways and resist the “road less traveled.”
✳️ The Rise of Innovation: Tesla
The rapid rise of Tesla marked the start of a new era for the global auto industry. Elon Musk launched new technology that wasn’t perfect and repeatedly improved it over time (failing fast and failing forward). He chose effectiveness (innovation leadership) by paying little regard to efficiency (early profitability) that is followed by the traditional automakers of the time. Eventually, the strategy paid off by making Tesla the largest automaker by market capitalization. This approach is the foundation of all recent technology boom and the emergence of companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, to name a few.
✳️ The Thrill is Gone: Sony
On the other side, let’s look at the story of Sony. During the 2000 downturn, the Japanese giant went on a cost-cutting spree by reducing its workforce, R&D, and capital expenditures. The profit margin increased in the short term (from 8% in 1999 to 12% in 2002), however, sales growth fell from an average of 11% in the three years before the recession to 1% thereafter. Since then, Sony has struggled to regain momentum and its market leadership. As a result, Sony and many other companies that followed a short term efficiency focused approach eventually suffered in the long term.
Balance effectiveness and efficiency. Understand that change takes time, and there is no silver bullet. Sustainable results take long-term thinking, commitment, and consistency.