Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Going 80 in the slow lane

It was one of those mornings.  It feels like it's been a week of one of those mornings.  Stayed up too late, so getting up early was difficult.  For the kids as well; they were in no mood to brave the cold for school.  So we're all running just a bit late.  I jump on the toll road because it's faster.  As I merge on the highway I notice that the cars are flying by me like I'm sitting still, one truck must have been doing at least 100 mph. I think I must be idling, but when I look down at the speedometer I'm doing 80!  

Ever feel like you're running a top speed and still not getting anywhere?  Like no matter how hard you try or how fast you go, you're getting passed up left and right and there's no hope of catching up? That's sort of what it feels like your first year in house (or in a new in house position).  I call it the speed of business.

Everyone else in the office moves at top speed at all times.  And they don't wait for you to catch up. If you're not clear on the new technology they plan on releasing in the next sprint, too bad.  The dev works been done, the marketing team has already placed the buy orders for the ad space and the finance team has already baked the expected revenue into the quarterly projections that will be disclosed to the board in next weeks meeting.

They can do that because business works best in the grey - when we're not 100% sure the tech is actually going to work as described, or the marketing will be innovative enough to grab attention but not offend. Business drives at 100 mph 24 hours a day all around the globe.  But for legal peeps, we don't speed very well.  We like to know all the facts, analyze and then make a judgment call.  Then we go through plan our action prior to taking it.  And this ensures that we don't ever get a ticket for going 100 mph in a 65 zone.  But it also ensures your company that a competitor will get there faster. So then you find all your coworkers going around you because you're too slow.

The trick is to hit the ground running, start the day at 65 and expect to speed up.  But lay the groundwork so your top speeders have to slow down.  Put into to place the process and procedures that weed out the known speed traps, and explain that's what your doing.  Find the back roads, alternative routes or even toll lanes where the speed limit jumps so you can get a jump on the competition who get caught in the speed traps or refuse to speed.  And give enough wiggle room so that everyone can go 5 to 10 miles over the posted limit when necessary.  You may find yourself doing 80 in the slow lane for awhile, but eventually traffic flows catch up and that guy doing 100 has to slam his breaks or wreck his truck while you pass him by going with the flow because you've taken stock and know where the next window of opportunity is likely to pop up.