Let’s talk about “Ready, fire, aim” or alternatively, taking action (including reacting) before thinking or planning. Or even simpler, reacting emotionally to a problem. There’s benefits to this, quickly deploying something to take advantage of trends or prevent an emergency. But more often than not though, it introduces risk and instability that doesn’t need to be there. It’s useful for preventing over planning. But flying by the seat of your pants? It’s dangerous and will almost certainly result in a decision that is damaging to your brand and your business.
This concept boils down to this: Do then think. Planning, testing, and gathering feedback take time and you’ll miss out on the presented opportunity. But what happens when you skip something and it slips through the cracks? Will the house collapse because you missed a few nails? Probably not at first. But the problem with poor planning and quick solutions is that they compound. All of a sudden something that was a minor corner to cut has become two corners to navigate, then four, then sixteen. Now you live in a situation with a house falling down around you and you aren’t seeing.
Real Life Examples
One thing we see is the ‘frequent tornado drill.’ When bosses tell their workers to NOT put time or effort into a project. “Act, don’t think” is what is being touted as the most efficient thing to do. Some of these are legitimate, if the building is on fire, it’s best to not wait around for stats on ‘death by office fire’ before you move. Most situations are not. “Modern” businesses like to act this way. They’re constantly putting out these hypothetical fires as if that’s the only way to solve problems, rather than prevent them in the first place.
These mostly annoying events in the corporate world seem to only exist to waste everyone’s time. Meeting time, a huge company-wide problem is lingering and needs a solution. This solution will be ready before anybody leaves. So the attendees get to work. Ideas start flowing and the first few come easily and now you start crafting a solution to the problem that still doesn’t have all the information available. Leaving out minor things is a non-issue during these meetings. Things like how long the problem has existed or even just an understanding of the problem at hand. Ready, fire, aim.
Many day-to-day issues can be addressed in the typical meeting fashion: customer concerns, new ideas for marketing, or vision casting. More significant problems require more significant thinking, and thus more time (and that doesn’t mean more meetings). The best solutions need time and space to just breathe and mature. Is it any wonder that, 6-months following one of these meetings you hear this response to an issue or compatibility question that is popping up: “we just never thought about that.” No kidding…everyone was excited about firing off a solution…..nobody bothered to figure out what we’re aiming at.
Striking a Balance
Now the fun part. How do you stay agile while properly planning for major projects? Balance and foresight.
This is where we start to push Scrum and Agile project management. It’s one of the single best ways you be both quick to react, yet still plan properly. If you’re constantly thinking in the way that Scrum/Agile teach you, then you’re always planning for a minimum viable project through each “scrum” project. This forces you to trim the fat and run things effectively. So you have time to plan out a few things, while still moving forward on a project, because things scale when you handle them properly.
If you want to be quick to react, you need to be using some ‘scaling’ management system no matter the name, find one that fits well for you. Or you’re going to be putting out fires and hoping for the best. Optimism is great, but it’s not a good foundation to grow your business on. Long term success in business requires you think beyond next week or even next month. Don’t think that you CAN’T react quickly to things, just remember that when you’re wanting to get somewhere quickly, a plan and a goal are still necessary for you to find your way.