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Smart vs. Fast February 27, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career.

Ever hear the adage to ‘work smarter, not harder‘ ? I am no stranger to working hard and these days, we all work hard. Given a choice, I submit we all prefer to work smarter.  There is also a difference in working faster vs. harder. Make no mistake, I’m all for fast. But working fast does not imply working smart.

Working smarter (smartly ?) includes the correct focus, priority and really effective communications. Without these, I can work fast but not always smart. And when I work too fast,  I make mistakes. Things take more time and there is waste – waste of time, effort and cost. Not smart, but it could be fast. So lately, while I have been working hard, I have not always been smart about it. I rationalize as to how that happened. Plans go awry, changes impact work already done and need to be revisited (waste again). And time goes on without moving deadlines.

Just Not Reaching That GuyWe get smart about work when it repeats, when it is becomes predictable. You can rely on past experience and knowledge. Estimates become better aligned to reality.  Having to capture a repeatable process aids in communicating effectively (being on that proverbial same page). Documenting and getting consensus helps make everyone smarter. Working smart, not fast also relates to my previous post on spinning plates and the balance of capacity and demand.

There is also the tangent of “I’d rather be lucky than good”. I hear that a lot on the golf course. Me, I prefer to be good (something I can control) as opposed to rely on luck (over which you have no control).

So, when we cannot always work smart, what drives our priority? Focus? Is it cost? Timing?



1. Damir Saracevic - February 28, 2011

As Seth Godin said it, asking somebody to work faster (more) is the easiest form of management, but the most important and difficult form of management is to ask people to work better (i.e. smarter). The second one, to your point, is trickier; it requires education, coaching, patience, desire, leadership, in order to build a team that is better, and all of it takes time.

Edwin Ritter - February 28, 2011

Seth has a way to boil a topic down to the essentials, doesn’t he?
Thanks for the comment, Damir.

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