In 2008, a perfect storm formed. The largest recession/depression since 1929 hit the world. At the same time, we all experienced the full fledged 10 year adoption cycle/impact of the internet. Through the next four years, two trends emerged: The markets required companies to do more, do it better and do it faster and all this with fewer people.
We are now beginning to experience, individually and organizationally a sense of fatigue that comes from depletion. When I was actively rowing, I learned a valuable lesson related to depletion. In a rowing race, you start the race with a very intense sprint which immediately puts your body in to a state of anaerobic depletion (this state means that the rowers body is both attempting to take in more oxygen then is possible and is unable to convert fats/carbohydrates to energy…. So, the rower begins the race in a state of pan “pins and needles” in the legs, etc.). By the end of a six minute race, a rower has performed the fatigue equivalent of playing, full out, two back to back basketball games.
The lesson learned…. step away. There are times that continuing a pace puts one, or one’s organization, in peril. Now, for those who are ready to respond with “Yeah… and watch my customers go away and my progress melt away” let me offer that the purpose of stepping away is to focus on improvement and efficiency. It is not about giving up.
So, tell me… what would you do if you stepped away? What would your team do if they paused and regrouped? What would change about the spiral I see of faster, better, cheaper?