Not a Moment to Lose

running-man-image1I have always operated under the assumption that when it comes to all-things business, urgency is the order of the day— every day, 24/7.  That means there is almost never a valid excuse for putting off the most important tasks in your business. Having a few, a very few priorities helps me to live by this credo.

Just the other day I was surprised by the reaction of someone we do business with every so often.  She was a literary agent who had sent me a book proposal to review and evaluate. When she told me about it, I thought the project had a good chance of being viable—of being the kind of book we might publish.  As a result, I told her I would read the proposal and get back to her within 24 hours. I got the proposal later that night as expected, and got back to her within about 18 hours. She was shocked. She told me that almost no editors move as quickly as I did. I was stunned. How do other editors and publishers operate? Do they take weeks to get back to agents?

One of the keys to being able to move with such urgency is to have an organization behind you that is designed for speed. The last thing an organization needs is a bureaucracy to weight it down. I have documented too many organizations that have been sunk by the sheer weight of their own red tape. I have also seen the opposite.  Sometimes organizations have mavericks that seem to force everything to a quick a decision point. However, mavericks must choose their battles carefully. Not everything needs to move at 100 miles per hour. Most decisions do just fine at 55 or 60. But for those important decisions, don’t sit around and react.  In really tough times like these, being fast and proactive can mean the difference between success and failure.

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