In the Chinese language, the word for “crisis” (wēijī) is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity.
The original meaning of wēijī is “danger at the point of juncture.” The Western re-interpretation of “danger plus opportunity” is now widely accepted in business, politics, and popular culture ¹.
One of our valued clients texted us (following a discussion about our “Bottling Success” blog https://foxman.co.nz/bottling-success/) with THESE words of wisdom “speed trumps perfection in a crisis”
Remembering the story of the hare and the tortoise ², we questioned whether speed over perfection was the best option for an organisation during a crisis? ³
Our client is the GM of a medium sized essential business which operated through the complexities of level 4 and 3 of lockdown. His insight from this experience was that speed in decision making enabled the business to keep operating, kept the team motivated and involved and resulted in the development of a new and essential product line!
“You can only make decisions based upon the information in hand at the time” he told us “The perils of delaying decisions in a crisis, such as confusion, disorganization, and demotivation, are far greater than the perils of making a less than perfect decision”
Speed versus perfection
In a nutshell – if we define quality as fit for purpose. A speedy decision is a good quality decision in a crisis; accuracy in decisions is not always the highest priority.
The mission statement for our client’s business (with modified wording to protect confidentiality) is “Creatively Leading the Way”.
“We made rapid decisions which then created the space to think, research and get it right later!” our client confirmed.
Thinking about the Chinese characters for crisis – the balance between the risk of the rapid decision (the danger) enabled the opportunity.
¹Wikipedia: The Chinese Word for Crisis:
²Aesop’s Fables: The Hare and the Tortoise:
³HBR Research: Organisations that move fast really do break things: