On slowing down to speed up

In the fast-paced, notification-driven, world we live in, it’s very easy to get whipped up in the “speed of the things”. We’re constantly after faster internet speeds, faster cars, hacks to improve our lives and save us a few moments here or there.

The same is true in business. We’re constantly seeking efficiency hacks and improvements to improve our time spend and allow more time for surfing and fun activities.

The past year has confirmed for me that slowing down is the best way to efficiently speed up. Here’s why.

Consciously slow down

In order to be truly efficient, one should review the process in question, pinpoint bottlenecks and work to remove them. Performing the task quicker doesn’t create true efficiency, as one is then relying on the endurance of the human mind to perform at a consistently fast rate. As we all know, this doesn’t happen on Friday afternoon at 4:30pm.

Identify a very specific process

Get specific with your processes. An example of a specific process would be “the process of taking a WooCommerce extension from audit to deployment”. This process then ignores the idea conception and development, choosing to focus purely on one jump- from audit to deployment.

Take control

I’ve observed at Woo, that when a new leader is appointed in a particular division, we tend to want to take control of the entire funnel for a particular process, most times without even realising we’re doing this, at first.

Having done this myself, and analysed why I chose to take control, I believe this was due to wanting to fully understand and inspect the funnel of product conception, development and launch. While at scale this slows down a little too much, the methodology makes sense when applied in smaller doses.

Find bottlenecks, and remove them

The most obvious, yet most crucial, step. Find the key causes of the slow down and remove them. Rinse and repeat until all bottlenecks are removed.

Repeat this flow regularly

Continuous improvement is a foundational piece of an ever-efficient team. At Woo, we’ve successfully applied this to grow WooCommerce to over 5 million downloads (and growing!) and a flourishing developer ecosystem, with only a small core team of around 5 members. Constantly assessing how we act and conduct our flow helps us to receive feedback and improve the flow for everyone, ultimately speeding us up.

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