25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #7 Do things properly

After a hiatus born of the Christmas holidays, followed by a week of intensive conference activity and then a desperate (and not entirely successful) attempt to catch up, this series is back! Thanks for your patience during its temporary absence.

Doing things properly is what I like to think of as “making haste slowly”. We live in an age where everything is expected to be decided upon, and then executed, extremely quickly. The problem is that without getting the detail sorted out in the beginning, the work can actually take longer as incorrect assumptions have to be confronted and corrected. So, when a potential client asks me, say, if I could write up a case study, I need to be able to know whom it’s intended for, where I obtain the information from and so on, before agreeing to undertake the work.

Interestingly, some people find this approach annoying, even though it’s ultimately in their own best interests. If I agree to write the case study, and then find I am not given the data I need, that is going to waste a lot of time. If I find that the audience is one I know little about, I may need more time to write the case study whilst I conduct my own research. All of this takes time at the start of the process, but hopefully saves time in the end. It appears to be slow, but is actually a way of making progress as fast, smoothly and accurately as possible. Hence “making haste slowly”.

This has particular application in the field of leading and managing educational ICT. For instance, if you’re thinking of buying a class set of mobile devices, rather than order 30 iPads straight away, wouldn’t you be better off doing some research, looking at the alternatives (both to tablet devices and to Apple)? If you do that properly, it will take longer. But hopefully the result will either be better, or will be the same but with more confidence invested in it.

None of this should be any surprise to followers of the ICT Programme of Study in Britain, or the equivalent in other countries. There is a requirement to take into account the needs of the audience, and that means (or should mean) rather more than making simplistic assumptions and even more simplistic decisions. It surely implies some degree of research, even if only at the most cursory level?

Good leadership and management is not about being able to take decisions quickly. Good leadership and management is about being able to take the best decisions as quickly as possible.