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Fuck Taylor — The Whole Idea of Efficiency is Broken

We need to slow down, not speed up.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Fuck Taylor.”

Few things both­er me as much as “work faster” gurus. 

I find the concept of “being effi­cient” and “being effect­ive” fun­da­ment­ally broken.

Allow me to explain:

Table of Contents

    Why Inbox Zero is Not My Cup of Coffee

    Now, I want to talk to you about cof­fee in a minute, but first, let’s talk about emails. Whenever the top­ic of email man­age­ment comes up, the assump­tion is always that all of us have this bot­tom­less hatred of emails — and we must all loathe our inboxes.

    There’s just this prob­lem: I don’t hate answer­ing emails.
    I think it’s nice when someone sends me a good email.
    And, I don’t mind writ­ing a good email myself, either. 

    Also, I love it when a blog read­er drops me a line to say hello and con­nect. If this would hap­pen to me a hun­dred times a day, then I’d con­sider myself lucky for hav­ing the prob­lem of find­ing the time to respond. 

    Like every­one, I, too, get spam and oth­er emails that aren’t very good, but I don’t mind tweak­ing my fil­ters now and then. I enjoy tweak­ing my inbox rules!

    But for some reas­on, unbe­knownst to me, the con­sensus seems to be that I should hate spend­ing time in my inbox and do away with any incom­ing emails as quickly as humanly pos­sible. As if Inbox Zero was some­how cool.

    I don’t get this. 

    I enjoy reply­ing to good emails, so I craft my responses with care and atten­tion to detail. 

    I think it mat­ters greatly to find the right choice of words and string them togeth­er in a ton­al­ity that serves my intentions. 

    But, seem­ingly, none of this is as essen­tial as speed-writ­ing stac­cato emails accen­tu­ated by the oblig­at­ory emoji to make up for any mis­takes in tonality.


    Fast” vs. “Awesome”

    I’ve got­ten caught up in the glor­i­fic­a­tion of doing things as fast as humanly pos­sible myself: 

    I once took a severe stab at both speed-read­ing and touch-typing. 

    Speed-read­ing was easy; the secret was to stop mak­ing the words with your tongue muscles as you dash through the text. 

    Touch-typ­ing was worse; it was all about prac­tising not look­ing at the key­board. As it turned out in the end, both tech­niques were per­fect ways to des­troy the artist­ic enjoy­ment of both read­ing and writing.

    I’ve stopped mak­ing excuses for being who I am. I’m a tact­ile per­son, and I want to feel what I do. At my com­puter, I use a clunky mech­an­ic­al gam­ing key­board. Why? 

    Because I want to feel each stroke of each let­ter and num­ber, and the text about to be writ­ten decides how much time it wants, not me or any­one else.

    Coffee and Meetings

    The same kind of reas­on­ing goes for my morn­ing coffee. 

    I enjoy each great cup of cof­fee as if it was my last. I could, of course, down four cups of cof­fee in ten minutes, but why would I want to do that? 

    And if I did down those pre­cious drops like there was no tomor­row, I indeed would­n’t con­sider it to be an accom­plish­ment. To me, this goes for doing everything that I love doing. 

    If I would feel the urge to get any­thing enjoy­able over quickly to get my fix — then it’s an addic­tion that ought to be kept in check.

    What about meet­ings, then? 

    Everyone seems to be over the moon about hav­ing short and fast-paced meet­ings. But I’ve always had long meet­ings with my cli­ents and col­leagues — some­times meet­ings that have las­ted for hours on end. We would talk, relate to each oth­er, exper­i­ment with ideas and con­cepts, explore vari­ous inter­est­ing ven­ues of reas­on­ing, and we would laugh, argue, and listen. 

    With this approach to meet­ings, we’ve been able to get to places and res­ults that we oth­er­wise would nev­er have obtained.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hate bad meet­ings, just as I hate lousy emails and lousy cof­fee. And I can accept that a bad meet­ing is less use­less if it’s being kept short. But the fun­da­ment­al prob­lem here is not the length of the meet­ing — it’s the qual­ity of the cof­fee… sorry, the qual­ity of the meet­ing.

    But I can­’t see the value of con­di­tion­ing one­self to have more bad short meet­ings, reply quick­er to more bad emails, or drink more bad cups of cof­fee faster. 

    If all of this is part of what con­sti­tutes effi­ciency, then all those gurus can keep all their “effi­cien­cies” to them­selves — at least as far as I’m concerned.

    The Fear of Being Slow

    Now, I think I know what many pro­fes­sion­als fear in this regard: 

    They fear being accused of being lazy or, worse — being slow.
    But that’s not how exper­i­ence and pas­sion works. 

    Example: If it takes a juni­or PR con­sult­ant 30 minutes to draft a press release, I could prob­ably pro­duce a press release with the same qual­ity in ten minutes.

    If I get 30 minutes to write that press release, the aver­age juni­or can­’t match my draft — even if giv­en a whole week to try.

    And, it would take a good two hours to write that press release. I might even be able to write some­thing worth reading.

    Does this make me slow? Does this make me lazy? 

    Well, if that were to be accur­ate, would that be so bad, then? For the human side of doing busi­ness, I rate exper­i­ence, pas­sion, and cre­ativ­ity a lot high­er than out­put per minute. We should promptly out­source any such repet­it­ive tasks to machines and com­puters anyway. 

    Now, some PR pro­fes­sion­als might react to the example of the press release as I’m imply­ing that juni­or PR con­sult­ants rarely pro­duces press releases worth read­ing. Still, writ­ing press releases is what many juni­or PR con­sult­ants do. To those of you who think that I’m out of line here, I’d ask you to ran­domly col­lect a whole bunch of offi­cially pub­lished press releases and read them through. As per your estim­a­tion, how many of them are close to what they could’ve been in terms of quality?

    Frederick Winslow Taylor is fam­ously known as an early cru­sader against inef­fi­ciency. After a few failed exper­i­ments on the fact­ory floor, he got fired — but was­n’t dis­cour­aged. Instead, he became what could be seen as the world’s first man­age­ment con­sult­ant.

    Taylor’s basic premise was that all fact­ory work­ers were lazy, but We could fix that with a stop­watch. Well, you get the idea.

    As far as I’m con­cerned: Fuck Taylor. And as for all of you effi­ciency gurus out there, it’s noth­ing per­son­al, but fuck you too. 

    We must bring your reign to an end. 

    Your cul­tur­al super­star­dom must have its ped­es­tals sawn clean off. Go and solve Sudoku for time or some­thing. 1This, how­ever, is truly not fair. Creating and solv­ing sudoku puzzles at the highest level requires ingeni­ous crafts­man­ship, pas­sion, and exper­i­ence. If you don’t believe me, check out the … Continue read­ing

    Slowness: Experience, Passion, and Creativity

    Fuck Taylor
    Fuck Taylor.

    We need a soci­ety where young people are encour­aged to add that little extra oomph to every deliv­ery — even if they might fail to add actu­al value every time. 

    We need a soci­ety where we appre­ci­ate that exper­i­ence war­rants extra time for a level of qual­ity, ingenu­ity, and innov­a­tion that oth­er­wise could nev­er be obtained.

    Instead, we should be cel­eb­rat­ing exper­i­ence, pas­sion, and cre­ativ­ity.

    Now, I’m turn­ing my phone off to enjoy a slow cup of cof­fee in my own time because any­thing I pro­duce after­wards will be a whole lot bet­ter because of that slowness.

    1 This, how­ever, is truly not fair. Creating and solv­ing sudoku puzzles at the highest level requires ingeni­ous crafts­man­ship, pas­sion, and exper­i­ence. If you don’t believe me, check out the mes­mer­iz­ingly slow and insanely beau­ti­ful chan­nel Cracking the Cryptic on Youtube.
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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