Why don’t you slow down?

Dodano: 19-08-2016

Have you ever thought of doing things… slower? A vacation might be the time to slow down and think over many things. Carl Honore (2012, book cover) is one of the main supporters for the idea of slow: “It’s about finding the best way to tackle complex problems in every walk of life, from health and relationships to business and politics. Our addiction to superficial, short-term quick fixes is backfiring badly in so many ways”. Some find the idea so appealing that they decide to put it into practice in all aspects of their life. The slow movement idea reaches as far as management, too.

Zwolnij_blogInnumerous guides give you hints about how to be effective in space and time. In fact, being effective usually means doing things quickly. However, 90% of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities (Bruch, Ghoshal 2002). They waste time dealing with red tape and spend too little time planning and solving problems (Ulrych 2013). Why don’t they slow down? After all managers who take effective action (those who make difficult, even seemingly impossible things happen) rely on a combination of two traits: focus and energy. And yet “Spending adequate time in each phase of the PDCA (i.e. Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is imperative to having a smooth and meaningful quality improvement process” (Gorenflo, Moran 2010). When introducing an organizational change “there is the need to go slow to go fast” meaning that “Investing sufficient time and effort to gain attention and secure approval will increase the likelihood that organizations will adopt change” (Cramm 2016). Managers should take their time because speeding up things is not always a cure for solving business problems (Honore 2016). Even speeding up the training process and making it too easy will not help trainees to learn (Jagodzińska 2008, p.273). It takes time. Many experts say one should reduce the workload to work better. In the end to do less is to do more. If the working hours are reduced it will lead to better work (see number of working hours in Norway and Finland) (Sohn et.al., 2015, p.72). And by the way: a study has shown that the fact that you have to be slower when you take notes by hand in comparison to typing is what makes learning more useful in the long run (see: www.npr.org; Mueller et al., 2014). When writing with a pencil you carefully bring out your thoughts with words and sketches because you are incapable to write more words. When typing you do it thoughtlessly.

There is nothing wrong with procrastinating if the time used to work out the problem helps us to come up with a better solution. Do you happen to know the “bugger me! that’s it!” feeling when something valuable comes your mind when having a shower or watching TV? It doesn’t often happen to you at work but especially when you are away from work. We just have to postpone our decisions and sleep it over. In the ROWE (abbr. Results Only Work Environment) hrm strategy (Ressler, Thompson 2012) employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked. An employee’s performance is mostly not a question of time but rather of personal energy and how it is directed: “Most large organizations invest in developing employees’ skills, knowledge, and competence. Very few help build and sustain their capacity—their energy—which is typically taken for granted. In fact, greater capacity makes it possible to get more done in less time at a higher level of engagement and with more sustainability” (Schwartz T., McCarthy 2007). The value of short breaks after 90-120 minutes at the workstation is indispensable.

Even if you are reluctant to the whole idea, just slow down to think twice to be sure that you don’t make a mistake. Make it your habit to see whether it suits you. Having done it and still your answer is not affirmative (“the idea is just sheer stupidity, I must dash”) you accidently on purpose participate in it twofold: (1) you have reached the end of this English-written paper that probably made you read a little bit slower and more concentrated (you are a Pole, aren’t you?), and (2) it made you think and ask yourself at least a one question. I daresay your slow skills development is rolling in the right direction. Be patient.

Wojciech Ulrych


  1. Cramm S. (2016), Why It Makes Sense for Managers to Go Slow to Go Fast; http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Why-It-Makes-Sense-for-Managers-to-Go-Slow-to-Go-Fast?gko=4a225
  2. Sohn D., Jang H.J., Jung T., (2015), Go slow and Curvy, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland; https://books.google.pl/books?id=G2j_CgAAQBAJ&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=slow+management&source=bl&ots=1FabtidQhR&sig=3XZQSvUVPaImXbvlmiJe32cA60Q&hl=pl&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwizsezEtrfOAhVJKywKHSNCAAMQ6AEIWjAH#v=onepage&q=slow%20management&f=false
  3. Gorenflo G., Moran J. W., (2010), The ABCs of PDCA, http://www.phf.org/resourcestools/documents/ABCs_of_PDCA.pdf
  4. Bruch H., Ghoshal S., (2002), Beware the Busy Manager, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2002/02/beware-the-busy-manager
  5. Kingsley P., The art of slow reading, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jul/15/slow-reading
  6. Mueller P.A., Oppenheimer D.M., (2014), The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, Psychological Science, June 2014 vol. 25 no. 6, pp. 1159-1168; http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/6/1159.full?keytype=ref&siteid=sppss&ijkey=CjRAwmrlURGNw
  7. Schwartz T., McCarthy C., (2007), Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, Harvard Business Review, From the October Issue, https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time
  8. Ressler C., Thompson J., (2012), Nadgodziny są do bani! Pracuj dla efektu, a nie dla idei, Wydawnictwo HELION, Gliwice
  9. Honore Carl, (2016), Faster is NOT Always Better at Work (VIDEO); http://www.carlhonore.com/2016/06/faster-is-not-always-better-at-work/
  10. Honore Carl, (2012), Pochwała powolności. Jak zwolnić tempo i cieszyć się życiem, Wydawnictwo Drzewo Babel, 2012.
  11. Ulrych W., Dysfunkcje w zarządzaniu czasem w procesie pracy kierowników; http://cejsh.icm.edu.pl/cejsh/element/bwmeta1.element.hdl_11089_10340/c/14-ulrych.pdf
  12. Jagodzińska M., (2008), Psychologia pamięci. Badania, teorie, zastosowania, Wydawnictwo HELION, Gliwice
  13. Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away; http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away