Okay, our headline was a cheap trick … but we hope we grabbed your attention.

When we talk “speed,” it’s referring to the amazing work sprint, the time spent, from start to finish, on any one project, any one deliverable.   That race applies to those of us in creative and consulting fields as well as our colleagues employed in manufacturing and retail positions.

The question then becomes:  Why?  In our humble opinion, it’s caused by what researchers call the confluence of events.  Think about it:

  • Quite simply, digital means fast.  We’re accustomed to orders acknowledged in nano-seconds, to 140-character tweets, to FourSquare apps that immediately email receipts.  Why not for work?
  • Industry and competitor pressures don’t help.  “First to market” seems to be the bible for many CPG and tech companies, with “fast follower” a close second.  [And you know what that means for all department heads and executives.]
  • Business quicks.  A number of years ago, the giant SAP released its ASAP program … yes, shortcuts to implementing enterprise resource planning software (which typically eats money, and time, and resources).  Beyond IT, everyone is looking for the immediate or near-instant solutions, from home plumbing issues to worker productivity tools.

But what fast doesn’t allow is the ability to plan, to think, and to go with your gut.  In the creative biz, agencies are now competing against briefs completed in less than a day.  The time-honored RFP process is being shortened, not by days, but by weeks.  Sure, there are ways to stave off the speedy wolf at the door, but at what cost?

Here’s our call:  Set reasonable timeframes, realizing that everyone has his/her own pace.  Allow space for quality thinking … which can happen at any time, individually and in groups.  And recognize that the “Eureka!” moment, whether for product innovation or a campaign, works best in association with a multitude of other activities and thoughts.