‘Slowing down to speed up,’ a simple concept right? Well yes, it’s just so simple…IT. MIGHT. JUST. WORK!
Well, actually it really REALLY works. But you know, under-promise over-deliver.
Imagine driving on a highway en route for an epic adventure to Mt Hotham. It’s a beautiful day, breathtaking views of the mountains leave you in awe, and the open road commands your attention. Now, imagine you’re missing all of that because you’re too focused on the objects zooming past on the side of the road.
In today’s day and age where we’re all about bigger, better, faster. We’re so focused on the side of the road, moments fleeting by, that taking a moment to slow down seems crazy!
‘I’ve got too much to do. How on earth could I slow down?!’
But what if you’re speeding towards these goals so fast you don’t even notice you’re heading in the wrong direction? This is why slowing down before you speed up is essential for business transformation.
The philosophy is simple, do less. Do less with purpose, with direction and for the right reasons. It’s with reactivity that we speed up and lose control. Proactivity allows us to slow down, step back, and choose opportunities that will drive serious, sustainable growth.
Seriously. What if you did something dramatically different and it all went horribly… right?
The philosophy of slowing down to speed-up is essential to our programs for that very reason. It challenges teams to try something different. To remove the preconception that ‘this is how we do it’ and consider ‘this is how we could do it better’. And here’s how you can do it!
Slowing Down to Speed Up: Back to Basics
In a nutshell 🥜, slowing down to speed up means stepping out of the daily grind, hitting pause on the constant stream of to-do’s, and taking time to reflect on your priorities and work to date. You’ve all heard the saying “getting out of the rat race” well that’s in essence what it is.
Only then, after you have reset yourself, can you hope to ‘speed up’, launching exciting new campaigns, programs, innovations, products or strategies that will supercharge substantial growth in your business.
It helps your team collaborate better, it makes them happier, and it makes them feel valued. Changes desperately needed in today’s business climate.
When we are stuck on our hamster wheel, constantly taking mental notes on all of the things we ‘should do’ when we finally get a minute, we feel overwhelmed. And overwhelm is a total vampire for your energy and team confidence!
How To Slow Down to Speed Up
Step One: Resetting Priorities
How much of your time is dedicated to putting out fires? Are you priority projects gathering dust sitting on the back burner?
Too often we suffer from priorities paralysis. Strategic implementations that should be a high priority get pushed down the list.
We become so overwhelmed by everything we SHOULD be working on, and buried down in the day-to-day, that focussing on priorities becomes practically impossible.
The first step to slowing down to speed up is in the name. Slow down. Actually, in fact, STOP 🛑. Pen’s down. If your organisation can’t survive with pens being down for a while then you have a bigger problem on your hands, my friend!
Stop the madness and:
Work as a unit to write a list of all the ongoing projects you have
Add to that list the day-to-day responsibilities of your role
Now as a team, consider ‘what are our priorities for the next 90 days?’
How do your tasks align with these priorities? Are you moving with pace in one direction or small steps in 100 different directions?
Then, as a team, vote on your top 10 (max) priorities for the next 90 days. Keep this list safe, we will revisit it…but first, more slowing down!
You might be thinking lady… 10 things in 90 days, you must be mad? I mean 10 MAX and they don’t need to be done and dusted in 90 days. You will reassess every 30 days and develop sprints.
Science shows that humans will naturally gravitate towards the tasks that come easiest to us. Yes, our brains are a little lazy and prefer the comfortable…but it also makes a lot of sense. We like to exercise our unique skillset, and organisations that take champion skillsets are ultimately the ones that succeed.
As businesses grow and team members come and go, it’s very easy for responsibilities to become jumbled, some even falling by the wayside.
‘Ugh, stupid file storage…Who’s job is it to clean up our file storage again? Me?! Uh oh…’
Ask your team members to rewrite their job description, including an outline of their role, daily/weekly/monthly responsibilities. From here, have an open and honest conversation.
Are their current priorities the best use of their talent? Or could they be reassigned to another team member? Are they doing the work that they enjoy? Are there any other tasks they’re interested in taking charge of?
Self-assessment is a wonderful way to create team efficiencies and increase team happiness.
We’re never going to love every element of our job. It’s ok to have tasks that are challenging, even arduous—everyone needs to carry their weight. BUT if one person is burdened with too many responsibilities outside of their skillset, they’re going to become bogged down and overwhelmed. This slows progress down, and not in a good way.
Have you ever in your career felt like you’ve had so much on you can hardly breathe!? Maybe there are people in your team who feel like this. It’s important in this part to look at your projects and think about the cross-functional skills the projects need and establish a working group assigned to each prirority before going into the next step.
It’s time for your team’s talent to shine. Get those roles established and develop your working groups (project steering committee) for your projects!
#3 Establishing Your Project Leads
You don’t need to be a corporate heavy-weight or billion-dollar business to assign Project Leads!
It’s at this part of the process that many businesses lose momentum. Everyone is on board, ready and rearing, but wait…NOBODY IS AT THE WHEEL! Uh oh…train wreck!
Considering your newly refined roles, assign a Project Lead for each major priority. This person will be in charge of:
Co-ordinating the project steering committee (everyone in collaboration on the project)
Managing deliverables in your project management tool (If this makes no sense. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it in step four)
Keeping everyone on track to meet deadlines and giving a gentle nudge where necessary
Reporting back to key business stakeholders
#4 Setting Your 30, 60, 90 Day Plans
When Edmund Hillary decided he would be the first person to climb Mount Everest he sure as hell didn’t simply roll-up his rucksack and head on up.
You can bet he had a plan, and you’re going to need one too if you’re going to scale the business equivalent of Mount Everest!
You’ve set your priorities, your working groups are established and we’ve got some superstar project leads assigned to your various projects. Time to roll-up your sleeves, here comes the planning process!
It’s time to get granular as hell. For each priority establish the core platforms or pillars of business that will play a role.
For example, when we are working with a client on a large marketing campaign, that isn’t used to an agile marketing practice we generally start with: website, social, email, research and testing and keep it simple for everyone to get their head around, it’s like this…
Under each pillar break your tasks down into 30, 60, 90-day increments.
Project: Climb Mount Everest
Purchase life insurance (online)
Break the news to Mum (in-person)
Google ‘How to climb Mount Everest’ (online)
Consult a professional trainer (gym)
Book flights to Lukla Airport (online)
Enquire about an experienced Sherpa (online)
Train like a mad-man (gym)
Book accommodation in town (online)
Purchase necessities and pack rucksack (in-person)
Ok, I’m sure Edmund’s plans were a little more thorough. But you get the gist. By breaking your project down into small manageable tasks it looks less like a mountain, and more like a molehill (whatever that is?)
It’s then the Project Leads job to plug these tasks into your project management tool (Like Trello, Jira or Asana) and assign responsible users to the project deliverables.
‘I guess this is where speeding up begins?’ Well, off you go, time to smash those priorities out of the park.
You’re going to need the odd pitstop along the way!
It’s important to take time weekly, even daily for just 15-min to go through your top priorities for the day/week and discuss any blockages you may have experienced preventing you from moving forward banish those energy-sucking vampires!
We call these meetings WIP’s (Work in Progress or Stand-Up meetings). I’ll have a blog that goes more in-depth on this topic very soon. Hold tight!
Your project lead should ask questions to each member like…
What worked well last week?
What is outstanding?
What are you doing this week?
Who do you need help from?
Where did you get blocked? Is anything getting in your way?
Do You Need Help Slowing Down to Speed Up?
Learning to slow down before you speed up is the key to removing reactiveness and championing proactivity in your business.
At MI Academy, we run through this process in-depth to help clients develop concise roadmaps for their projects. And it works…
149% increase in revenue in 90 days, without spending a cent
8000 new subscribers in 14 days, without spending a cent
175% increase in abandoned cart conversions
187% increase in email revenue from just one campaign…to name just a few of our client successes!
If you need help, slowing down to speed up and increasing your team’s capabilities across digital marketing and customer experience, then we are here to help. Reach out—there’s no need to suffer in overwhelm. Let’s chat!
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia's leading digital marketing futurists and the brains behind Milk It Academy – A research-based training firm to advance marketers skills into new school digital leaders and company innovators. For over a decade Alita has worked with global brands including SAP, Experian, SEMrush, TS14+, Estee Lauder, Myer, Power Retail, & Online Retailer.