Posted by: johnocunningham | January 23, 2018

Communications: Be Quick, but Don’t Hurry

The most successful college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden of UCLA’s glory years, had a mantra he repeated to his teams: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” Wooden won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than three in a row in Division 1 college basketball.

Wooden understood the importance of being quicker than your opponent in getting to the goal, but he also knew the danger inherent in hurrying to get there. The idea is to play as a coordinated team at the highest speed possible while maintaining control of the ball.

The same rule could well be applied to communications – be quick, but don’t hurry to communicate vital information to your teammates, clients, customers, strategic partners and the public.

If you are not quick enough to communicate key information to teammates or employees, the gap in time without communication will be filled in by speculation, rumor, and spontaneous rumblings from those who are quicker, but careless. If you are not quick enough to communicate to clients, customers, the public or to outside stakeholders, then the same applies – you will be stuck with the perception of truth that gets created in the vacuum of information.

But if you hurry to get information out, then you are in danger of getting it wrong, either because it has not been sufficiently checked factually, or coordinated internally so as to make sure everyone is on the same page. In too many situations, organizations have communicated misinformation because one person spoke for the organization based on unilateral assumptions or lack of understanding with regard to the entire organization.

The key to high-scoring communication is in “coordinated quickness,” which requires every player to execute promptly on his or her responsible role for contributing or checking facts, coordinating with others, and then working within the established playbook to accomplish the messaging objectives.

A nice article on the relevance of John Wooden’s mantra to high performance can be found in the 11-30-2014 edition of Psychology Today online.


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