Speed is everything

The power of being able to decide quickly

· logistics and systems

So far as I can tell the number one driver for progress in the world, is speed. If you can help people get something faster, they will pay to use it. Sure, there’s exclusivity for the rich and for the few, but for the masses, speed is everything. If you can speed things up, you can get out of that grind, out of the rat race, because speed gives you the ability to win the race. Or at least be far enough ahead of the race, to the point where you can relax, right?

I mean, look at some examples of how much we chase speed

Kodak developed the 1-hour photo, then the digital camera replaced film. Horses were replaced with railroads and cars. Then there’s Spotify which is faster than you at finding music and making playlists. And of course, Netflix is faster at giving you a wider range of entertainment. It keeps going, just look at the choices you have.

You could use a map, or you could use Google Maps (which also comes with guidance)

You could use the Yellow Pages or Google

You could write a letter by hand or just text it

You could drive to Sydney or fly in a plane

Looking through the list, which is faster, or at least so easy to use, making things feel faster.

Now bringing this back to the theme of this blog, logistics is all about speed.

2-day standard shipping, same day delivery, 1-hour delivery, the record I think is something like 13 minutes from an order being triggered to having it delivered. Which is something I was able to quickly find out, by Googling it. We idolise speed and going fast, to the point where we don’t think of our pantries as storage lockers anymore, we think of Amazon as the pantry which never goes empty. Well… in some countries, in Australia, we have big issues like distance, crap internet, and a government which is less stable than a volcano. But the trends are there to change that so let’s see what happens going forward.

So, what’s the point here, why elaborate on speed so much? Well, here’s my theory: with enough time people can learn anything.

Hear me out.

You can do anything with enough time.

If I wanted to, I could walk from Melbourne to Perth, but I don’t because that sounds boring and it isn’t going to teach anything. But put this idea of learning into the context of a workplace, if I have to work out the best way to present something, how much time I have dictates the quality of my work. 

If I have five minutes, the quality is likely to vary between very average and completely shithouse. If I have two days, it’s likely to be brilliant. Because, as per the theory I have suggested, there’s enough time to teach myself and learn what the best way to present the “something”. I can gather information, iterate my slides, and practice my pitch. I have enough time to do a good job. 

Now of course, if you give people too much time it usually goes to waste. Just ask any uni student, if you have 10 weeks to complete an assessment, you WILL use 9 weeks to do nothing, 5 days to plan, then stress for 30 hours before it’s due. That’s just nature, it’s the way it’s meant to be. 

But in the workplace, you have different pressures, more than that you have different incentives. i.e. you’re getting paid to be there, and money is fun, you can buy things with money. 

Now, I used to tell my bosses, do you want a good job or a quick job? To which some cleverly replied, “I want a good job done quickly”. I… never really had a comeback for that one. 

Come to think of it maybe this whole piece is my comeback… you know how you talk to someone and then think of the perfect reply two days later and in the shower. I guess this is my shower, welcome. 

Anyway, back to the point, which I’ve yet to think of or get to. 

Let’s go over what we’ve covered, speed is the driver, but with enough time you can do something properly. Which means the next logical question is, what happens if you don’t get the balance right? What happens when you take too much time or not enough? 

If you look at a business that already exists, like a big business, taking too long to change seems to lead to a slow demise. The fuse is much shorter in a small company because they can make change happen faster. They might not have the resources to plan properly but they have the capability to pivot into new directions. 

So, the conclusion and point must be, that at the right speed you can make the changes and stay in business. 

In logistics being fast is necessary, if you pick too slowly, delivery too slowly, do anything slowly really. You upset your customers or worse, get beaten by the competition. Which is bad, because you lose your customers trust, your friends, family, money, house, car, dog… it’s a disaster. A dramatic, messy, disaster. 

So, what’s the best thing you can do? What do you do with that time, how do you make it more productive so that you can make changes happen quickly?

Here’s theory number two of today, if, with enough time, you can learn anything, BUT you also need to do things quickly. With whatever time you have, start by doing the urgent things first, then spend the spare time you have learning and iterating on things which take longer. Like logistics, which needs to be done quickly. If you can learn how to do it properly, you can learn how to do it quickly – you can educate yourself to be faster by learning the fundamentals. 

It’s like learning how to drive. At first, you have no idea what is going on, there are buttons and wheels and other cars, and everything is very scary. But with enough practice and tuition from your instructors, you get the hang of how things work, what they do, how they play together. To the point where you are bored with the rules and want to go faster because it’s more fun. 

Learning about things, especially about the world of logistics and supply chain, is just like that. When you first find out this is something you need to do (the same as anyone living in Australia knows, not having access to a car is pretty much the same as not having a phone – so you need to do it). Once you work out you need to know about LSCM, you can learn, its scary at first, there are forklifts and orders and trucks and warehouses and people complaining. But spend the time with the right tutor and you learn how all the buttons work and how they play together. To the point where it becomes less about stress and more about fun. What a shocking concept, a supply chain can be fun. 

Was this whole thing an elaborate plug for what I’m trying to do with Krys Carter? At this point it really looks like it, I didn’t start out with this in mind… I wanted to write about how the ability to make good decisions quickly is vitally important to your operations and that people shouldn’t stress too much but get the balance right between due-diligence and risk because decisions can often be revisited. But here we are. Thanks for your time.