Employing Differences

Employing Differences, Episode 41: What happens when we slow down?

February 23, 2021 Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis
Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 41: What happens when we slow down?
Chapters
Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 41: What happens when we slow down?
Feb 23, 2021
Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis

"We actually approach problems differently, both individually and collectively, when we slow down and are able to be deliberative about it."

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript

"We actually approach problems differently, both individually and collectively, when we slow down and are able to be deliberative about it."

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Paul:

Welcome to Employing Differences, a conversation about exploring the collaborative space between individuals.

Karen:

I'm Karen Gimnig.

Paul:

And I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

Each episode, we start with a question and see where it takes us. This week's question is, "What happens when we slow down?"

Paul:

I imagine all of us have been in a situation where we're working in a group maybe it's a group of two, maybe it's a group of 15, who knows and we're working on something important, and we are working as fast as we can. We're just getting through things or making things happen, and we're maybe a little bit stressed out. And then we encounter something where there's a disagreement in the group about what we should do, how we should proceed, what should happen. What I've noticed in those moments is two things happen. There's part of the group that just wants to make a decision and move through it and just get on with it. And there's part of the group that wants to slow down and figure out what's going on here, what should we do, let's let's not move past this. This is the experience I've had pretty much with every group in any situation where they've encountered something like this. And I think it's interesting to think about what happens when we slow down and what can become possible when we slow, down to actually take that second fork.

Karen:

Yeah, so the first thing that happens is we slow down. We get less done. Production sort of either slows way down, or maybe stalls or stops. And so that sort of forward motion, forward energy towards the goal does slow down or possibly cease. And with that, likely comes some frustration amongst the camp that wants to keep going some concern, some added stress, possibly time pressure, if there's a deadline imminent, that kind of thing. And so I want to just sort of be balanced in what we're saying here, that as we're headed toward an episode about what happens when we slow down, that not all of it is the good stuff. Part of what happens is that we lose that part of our brain that just moves and is super efficient and gets things done quickly.

Paul:

Yeah, the thing that does happen immediately is that people get frustrated about stopping and slowing down. In many situations, it there is the idea that slow is smooth, smooth is fast. That by slowing down to address this problem now, to figure out what's going on, that actually sets us up to move even faster in the future. That's the hope. That is the belief that is behind the idea of let's slow down and take care of this. There are times when that's correct, and there are times when it's not. But absolutely, regardless of whether or not it's true, that feeling of frustration kicks in right away.

Karen:

And then I think the other thing that starts to happen is that in the space that's opened up with that other stuff that's not happening or not happening as quickly, not taking as many resources to happen, that in that space that opens up, a lot of other stuff can show up related to the disagreement and also related to the project, whatever it is. So on that list would be creativity, would be listening, would be sort of chewing and analysis and working through, and also probably a higher rate of collaboration.

Paul:

One of the things that happens when we slow down is that we do give our brains more room to work. We actually get access to a lot more of our cognitive function. And it's actually important to understand that from an evolutionary biology standpoint, and the way that our brains have evolved, we really have like two brains. If you've dug into any of Daniel Kahneman's work or other behavioral economics around this, the idea that we have our brain that responds very quickly, on instinct, that does the sort of first-fit pattern matching sorts of things. And that serves us very, very well and is very, very efficient from a brain resources, a glucose consumption standpoint. But it's not creative. It does the same thing all the time. That's actually what makes it efficient. When we slow down, we can actually get access to that other part of our brain, which is the very deliberative, the thinking though things, the recognizing how this situation is not the same as all the other situations we've been in, getting access to, that more creativity, more collaboration, those sorts of things. It's just that that is expensive from a brain resource standpoint, which is why we don't live there all the time. And so by slowing down, we do get access to that. We are able to think literally differently about a problem and about a disagreement. And so we actually approach problems differently, both individually and collectively, when we slow down and are able to be deliberative about it.

Karen:

I think one of the things that comes online in that slower brain that is absolutely absent from our faster efficient brain is awareness of our biases. That we can slow down and notice and this is where you know, cultural racism or sexism or classism or all of the "isms" that interfere with strong working relationships, or that silence voices on our teams, or all of that kind of stuff our efficient brain lives in the biases we grew up with as children, and it takes engaging the the slower, more deliberative brain to make any change to those other scripts. So that that's one of the really powerful things that can happen when you slow down and get deliberative that will never happen as long as you're full speed ahead.

Paul:

The other thing that can happen there is that that slowing down and becoming deliberative about noticing that you have done something that plays into one of those biases. I mean, I'm thinking about a number of situations in my own life where I did something without thinking, and then some point someone pointed out to me, "Hey, that that thing you just said, it's kind of racist." And went, and as soon as I though about it, I went, "Oh, right!" nd then shame pops in which is of course, another "I'm not thi king about this" reaction. W fall back into that space. And so I had to sort of then dou ly called myself back into th t deliberative space, and sor of go, "Okay, how do we how do we work with this?" Becau e if I stayed in that react ve, that instinctual, self prote tive brain that was not going to help in that situation. And s I was I'm grateful that I wa surrounded at that moment, by p ople who were gracious enou h to help me slow down for us t all slow down together, to actu lly be able to talk about it, s opposed to my instinct of I wa t to run away from this as fast as I can.

Karen:

Yeah, and I think we're getting more conscious and more willing to hear the "slow down" around issues of racism and sexism. And that's fabulous that we're making that progress as a culture. I think when, as we move through those we'll become also aware of other kinds of biases that we bring that are maybe more unique to each of us. But the reality is, I think, a huge amount of what we do badly and bad outcomes, bad products come as a result of not noticing the sort of boxes around my own perception, not being curious about what else is there. And, and a whole team can have the same hole in their perception, but it's a lot less likely. So if we slow down enough to get that curiosity rolling, I think we avoid mistakes, I think we as you say in the end probably do get more done. In Imago Relationships, we have a particular structure at people say, "But it's so slow," and we say "It's the slower way to get there sooner."

Paul:

And it can be interesting when we if we recognize that we do have a tendency to want to move quickly towards stuff, then also having the discipline or building into our processes or building into our ways of working those things that kind of force us to slow down and think about this for a minute. I worked in a team once where they would think through, often very quickly, okay, how could we build this? How would this work, you know, this sort of thing. And then they had a specific point in the process before they would implement it, where they'd stop and they'd go, "What are all of the ways this could go wrong?" Because they recognize that the hole in their thinking was they had a tendency to see how things could go right, and they marginalized that risk analysis thing. And so they recognized that so they built it into their way of working; they built in a slowdown point. It frustrated the heck out of them, except that they all knew it was important. And normalizing the frustration was actually really important, was part of what they built into it. They would say, "Okay, we're gonna do this thing, and everybody remember how frustrated we got last time we did this?" Everybody goes, "Yeah." "Okay, that's normal, okay." And then they could engage with it. But if they hadn't done that even if they hadn't taken that just few moments to normalize what they were all about to feel, then they would just get caught back up in it again, and they'd go, "We don't really need to do this." And then they would end up falling into the same trap that had caused them to realize that they needed to do that in the first place.

Karen:

Yeah, yeah. And I and I think, practice that's probably familiar to most of us is the Agile system where we have the stand-up meetings, those are all about fast and quick, and how can we get things going pretty uch. And then we have a etrospective that is very much low down and be deliberative. nd so there is that sort of alance of the efficiency of oing things very quickly, and he value and depth that you get hen you slow things down.

Paul:

Yeah, you really do need to tap into both systems in a lot of ways. Both have their place and recognizing when you get out of balance, either as an individual or as a group as a team like when are we spendin too much time slowing down an thinking about everything because that's absolutely trap, too and when are e spending too much time ju t responding on instinct, n t thinking through things and n t slowing down? Recognizing w en we're out of balance is r ally key.

Karen:

Absolutely. I think that's gonna do it for us today. Until next time, I'm Karen Gimn g.

Unknown:

And I'm Paul Tevis. This has been Employing Differences