“Fast” vs. “Right”

In my nonprofit work, I’m currently experiencing the tension between “doing things right” versus “getting the job done.” During the day, I’m advocating for slowing down and getting a few things  done right. On evenings and weekends, I’m trying to get my volunteer board to speed up, and say “this is good enough.” It makes me feel a little bipolar, but context.

For my day job, I represent a small but mighty national organization, that is within spitting distance of being stable, but can’t quite close the gap. For the last two years, we’ve been rapidly experimenting with new programs and strategies to learn as much as we can about what works and what doesn’t. If something blows up, it feels like my organization could cease to exist. We are a team of three and I depend on my paycheck. At the same time, I have a boss who sets the direction.

In my spare time, I volunteer for a small scrappy organization that completely relies on volunteers to execute everything from strategy to programs to marketing to fundraising. I’m surrounded by amazing people with high standards, committed to doing things right  and producing high quality products.  There are approximately 40 of us that make things happen.  Lots of worker bees, but also many Queens. Those in leadership are constantly questioned, and are constantly questioning themselves.

In both of these teams, we’d benefit from a discussion around QUALITY. In a small group setting, I should ask the following questions:

  • What do quality outcomes look like to each of us?
  • What is the feeling we want to convey when our stakeholders interact with us?
  • How do we want to feel about our outputs?
  • Where do we need to get out of the work that we do?

Brainstorm individually, and then have each person share their thoughts. Other participants shouldn’t interrupt. If you’re not sharing, just listen.

After you’re done sharing, ask each other:

  • What are the common elements of our definitions of Quality?
  • What is aspirational for our team?

Together, sketch out a standard that you are trying to achieve. Then put it to use! When questions about perfection or speed come up, test the question. Does X activity help us to meet our definition of Quality?

Have you done something similar in your work or organization? Let us know in the comments!

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