Getting innovation right takes time, and the only way to start is to start.
The pace we work at is relentless. So is the pace of change: faster than ever before, and slower than we should expect. Slow is bad. If you’re slow, you aren’t keeping up – you’re losing ground, falling behind.
Fast is a complicated word. It implies alertness and responsiveness. Fast makes us feel busy: being able to respond quickly to a threat or an opportunity takes a quick mind and an agile system.
But could slow actually be preferable?
Slow is considered, thoughtful. Slow is valuable. Slow has taken time, and time costs money. If you commit to an idea that takes time to develop and get right, it has been valued highly enough to attract an investment: your investment.
Slow food is highly prized and highly priced. Go shopping, choose ingredients, consider who you’re cooking for: prepare, assemble, serve, enjoy together. These are all elements of the slow food vernacular. Most importantly, the thought that went into the gathering of people and components – the planning – is where the value is. Compare ‘slow-cooked’ with ‘fast food’: how different do those two phrases make you feel?
Slow fashion: the consideration of a customer’s need, before producing a high value item, is part of the experience. Researching, thinking through how long the thing will be of value, working out whether it could become an heirloom, judging the real worth to a buyer. Set this against the time it takes to pick up a t-shirt from a high-street chain that could last for the summer, the weekend, or even just the night.
Slow fashion also rejects exploitation; it might want to reutilise recovered materials; it thinks about what this thing could become after you’ve finished with it. It doesn’t need packaging, because you select it with help from someone who knows the story behind its manufacture. You build a relationship with the brand representative and the brand location. You learn through the experience of getting to know this brand, and you decide whether it fits with your own brand values before finally buying. When you do part with your cash, you know that this product will be part of your life for a long time, and you have decided to invest time into its care.
Slow versus fast is how we make the difference in business. Looking at the opportunities that may be open to us, thinking through our options, considering the implications of doing one thing over the other: these are valuable and time-based activities that aren’t best done quickly, reactively, or in response to a short-term threat.
The most famous overnight successes came after years of slowly learning, honing an art, practising a craft. Very little of true value happens without time being taken to work the problems out. This isn’t to say that decisions aren’t made quickly. It just means that lasting brands know what they are there to deliver and return on investment is measured in consumer delight; not just bottom line results.
Getting it right takes time, and the only way to start is to start.
You may want to make a change quickly. You may be getting closer to the time when a new idea is your only way out. If you need time, but are running out, start now. If you need to push ahead more quickly than you have time for – get help, add a different skill set, multiply the thinking.
Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.