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Posted by on May 17, 2011

Faster Is Not Always Better

I recently served on a grand jury, which is definitely some experiential learning. It allows one to discover many facets of the community that may not be encountered so regularly in the course of everyday life.

The way a grand jury works is that you hear many, many case summaries, each of which takes anywhere from less than a minute to just a few minutes. The grand jury only decides if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial, not guilt or innocence.

With dozens of cases to hear, the question came up: Should we work through lunch and get out early, or take a break and stay later?

In my experience, almost everybody today advocates for “let’s go faster and get done earlier” under the relentless pressure of the clock. “Hurry up, compress cycle time, be just in time” and “now” seem to be the words of the age.
There was an immediate — I would say almost unconscious — push toward “Let’s get it over with.” So I had to say something.

Having recently read the phenomenal book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working,” and knowing what would happen at least to my attention span, energy, blood sugar and focus on an empty stomach, I had to push back.

And so I said, “We could work through lunch, but I think we would feel it later this afternoon. And I don’t think we were brought here to be fast. We were brought here to decide whether many people would be indicted by a grand jury. I think we owe it to them to give our best thinking and decision making.”

The room was quiet for a second. I was ready for pushback, but somewhat surprisingly, they all agreed.

I had a steak and cheese sub. (I know. This was not the best choice, but it was a small sub.) We reconvened after an hour and I would like to think we gave our best effort. We asked lots of questions, had high-quality discussion and worked productively as a group.

It wasn’t our fastest effort. Just our best.

There’s a difference.

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