Think Twice and Do Once

WheelEvery Do-It-Yourselfer knows the carpenter’s advice:

Measure twice cut once. 

In successful businesses, a similar recommendation holds true:

Think twice and do once.

To so many of us, immediate action appears to be essential:

  • We are just doing it!
  • We are making it happen!
  • No ‘analysis paralysis’ here!

However, such action is often detrimental to the long term interests of the company and its customers as mistakes are made or work is done that does not need to be done.

Instead, we all need to think before doing by:

  1. Asking: “Is it worth it?”
  2. Thinking it through
  3. Pre-planning

In short, we need to work smarter and not harder.


Asking: “Is It Worth It?”

Before undertaking a new business strategy, profit improvement initiative, or other work, we need to ask whether what we are going to do is worth doing.

  • What will really change?
  • Will the initiative really get done?
  • Will the financial benefit truly be realized?
  • Is there a simpler way to get 80% of the value with 20% of the time and effort?

By asking whether something is truly worth it, we can often save a lot of time and effort that would be wasted on some initiative or program that we never really should have started.


Thinking It Through

As part of determining whether an action or initiative is “worth it,” we need to think through our actions before acting:

  • What will the results be of this action?
  • Will doing this really benefit the business?

‘Thinking it through’ is very difficult for most companies to do.  In fact, it is one of the hardest transitions for companies as they adopt a lean perspective.  Especially in the United States, we prefer action to thinking, and we struggle with the lean fundamental that it is better to do nothing than to do something quickly and wrong.

To think it through, we must assess all the implications, follow-on effects, and opportunity costs of performing some action.  In the end, this thinking ensures that we will only pursue those actions that make our customers or employees happier and that make our company better.



Finally, we need to pre-plan all of our actions.  We need to think about how we are going to do the activity, what issues might come up, what we might have forgotten, and how we can complete the action more effectively.  In safety, job hazard analyses are usually used to pre-plan an activity and determine how it can be done safety and effectively.  In sports, top athletes visualize their race, going through their race in their mind before they compete.  With our businesses, pre-planning ensures that we get the job done as safely, quickly, and effectively as possible.



By thinking twice and then doing once, we will be working smarter and not harder and be far more likely to realize our business goals.



About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Business Acumen, Improve / Turnaround, Perform / Execution and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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