The Fine Art of Slowing Down

June 1, 2001 · by Paul Doherty

The enormous change that the AEC industry has witnessed over the past few years will pale in comparison with what will take place over the next 12 months. Does this make you want to speed up, preparing for this change?

I’m a speed addict. I can’t help myself. This New Economy thing has me constantly looking out for the new, new thing. Taking or making cell phone calls while rushing to my next appointment, sipping a Starbuck’s triple venti non-fat latte, juggling my laptop case over my shoulder while fumbling for my Palm V to make a note—all at the same time. Sound like a familiar picture?

Numerous recent articles have started to ask the question—just what are we in such a rush for? Beating the competition to market? Knowing something before someone else for competitive advantage? Is it just an entire culture’s habit to always be “on?” Since the description of the harried road warrior that I painted above could be like looking in a mirror for many of you, I couldn’t help but stop recently and ask, how much longer can this pace keep up? Are we in perpetual Internet time? I am sprinting in a marathon, yet I donít know at what point I am at in the race. I recently spent time on three separate continents, in eight countries all in the space of six days. And this is no longer perceived as remarkable, rather it is now the norm. When product cycles are measured in months rather than years, when money and information move around the world in an instant and when the workers in the trenches of the New Economy feel like “The Chosen People,” there is a recipe for complete and utter chaos, revolution and change. The enormous change that the AEC industry has witnessed over the past few years will pale in comparison with the change that is about to take place over the next 12 months. Does this make you want to speed up, preparing for this change?

In my opinion, it should make you want to do something that is not in vogue today—slow down and take the long view. By taking a broad stroke—waving your hand across the horizon—the factor of time becomes a secondary element. Creating your future puts more of an emphasis on ideas and goals, providing you with a roadmap for the issues you are facing each day. The sustainability of your business goals and ideas force an unusual element into the New Economy—framing.

Framing does not mean the old style business planning of the past, but rather a framework provides an instant understanding of where your goals are, providing a benchmark for fast decisions. But the wonderful thing about framing is that it makes the perception of fast decisions seem a bit slower, not as rushed, well thought out. Out goes the anxiety. In comes the peace. The maturation of speed in the New Economy is one skill that many of us need to learn so that burn out does not occur just when the industry is changing the most.

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