Beware of the Speed Trap


At this time of year, the speed of business changes. Things slow down as the holidays loom. This shift in pace is a useful reminder of just how fast we move most of the time. And it raises some questions worth pondering: Is faster better? Or does speed come at a cost? What can we do to capitalize on the benefits of speed while avoiding the pitfalls? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • First, some context. The accelerated pace of modern life goes beyond business and marketing. Journalist Lynn Enright sums the situation up eloquently: “Anyone with access to the internet is encouraged to live in a frantic whirl of information.”
  • So that’s the world at large. What about the world of marketing? A recent study revealed that the average tenure of a marketer is 2.6 years—the shortest of any profession in the business world. In this climate, speed can feel like a pragmatic survival strategy.
  • The marketing world is also filled with hype about what’s new and next. This, too, creates a prevailing sense of urgency driven by inflated expectations and a fear of being left behind.
  • And of course, these days we’re all trying to be “agile” marketers. We’re big fans of agility, but it’s easy to miss the crucial difference between agility and speed. Gartner’s Kirsten Newbold-Knipp explains it this way: Speed is about doing the same things faster. Agility is about responding to stimuli fast enough to drive a result.
  • Speaking of important distinctions, here’s another one worth considering: thinking busy vs. busy thinking. Mark Di Somma argues that the pressure to speed up is leading marketers to abandon research-based strategy in favour of instinct-based tactical action plans. A risky trend.
  • Speed and thoughtfulness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The Roman emperor Augustus had this insight 2,000 years ago when he adopted the motto “Festina Lente”, which translates as “Make Haste Slowly”. The idea was simple: once care and diligence have made the best path clear, you can move fast with confidence. Modern marketers would do well to follow the emperor’s lead.

  • If you’re looking for more practical tips on how to balance out the need for speed with more deep thinking and reflection, start here. Our favourites: schedule unstructured thinking time and make it a priority to protect yourself and your team from information overload.
  • Speaking of reflection, the mission of this newsletter is to help you stay thoughtful and strategic in these fast-paced times. We hope it’s helping. And we’d love to hear your feedback. And if you like what we’re doing, please consider sharing it with a friend or colleague—call it the gift of reflection. Thanks for reading and happy holidays from all of us at Modern Craft!


Copyright © 2018 Modern Craft, All rights reserved.

John Ounpuu
Issue #34
Dec 17, 2017

Further Reading