Tuesday, 6 December 2011

TEDCEMBER: Carl Honore Praises Slowness

Back in the day, I remember queueing in the rain for cinema tickets. The theatre usually had two films to choose from and if the queue was large, no guarantee that you would get to see either of them. Once tickets had been secured, there was a queue for confectionery, a queue for admission, a 'B' movie, an intermission (with adverts and ice-cream), then finally the main feature. If you couldn't get to the cinema before the feature was pulled, there was no Internet, Satellite, Cable, Blu-Ray, DVD or even VHS to fall back to. Your only hope was that in about five years time one of the four terrestrial channels might put it on as a Christmas movie so you could watch it on the mono, low def, goldfish bowel that passed for TV. As retrospectively painstaking as the cinema going experience was the combination of risk and anticipation meant it was far more exciting than the conveyor belt one we have today. This was the subject of today's TED talk, which kicks off with the soundbite,
"These days instant gratification takes too long"
Carl's point is we're constantly rushing, and that rushing may not be good for us. It may not even bring about the results we want. As example he recalls feeling impatient when reading to his son, the discovery of a book of one minute bedtime stories, and how it takes more than one minute for a child to feel secure enough to tell you about the problems they have had that day at school.

It's an important lesson for businesses too. The systems we work within require slack, not 100% utilisation. Without slack we not only suffer burn out, but there's little scope for continuous improvement. When our brains are actively focused on the job in hand the best we can do is make the existing system more efficient, but for the creative thinking necessary for radical improvement we need downtime.


No comments:

Post a Comment