What is your speed paradigm?

How slow are you?

I read an article in a Swedish news paper about how the speed in which you reply to an email or SMS message is a status indicator. Slow replies means you’re more important and of a higher status. Since we once started a company focused on reach management (basically a muting service) the article caught my attention.

But as my good friend (and co-founder of the company) Nicolai pointed out, this is only true if you’re not living in a paradigm in which speed and information are of the absolute essence. If your goal is to preserve the status quo and change is rare, then yes, a slow reply means you’re keeping things as they are and protecting your status.

If, on the other hand, you’re on a trajectory of change and need to move fast, then a slow reply is counterproductive and prevents you from moving forward and acquire validated learning.

It all boils down to if the currency of status is time or information.

Perhaps this is a good measuring stick for if you’re working in an innovative, forward leaning organisation or in a stale and static one? Are your managers fast to respond?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?


  1. Anders Borg

    My experience is:

    I generally answer way faster and more detailed than people expect. That’s not altogether positive, as they expect the same later when I for different reasons can’t provide the same “quality of service”. Sometimes I answer in seconds.

    There are still people that consider responding to e-mails something they might do, rather than should or shall. I especially notice that among relatives, where one in particular works in a traditional “what’s not written on a paper agreement doesn’t count” paradigm, and with very little dynamics, and he also prefers the phone, so e-mails don’t really matter to him. Of course, he doesn’t use Facebook etc either.

    What I’ve learned over time is to:
    Be concise, but factual and precise; no rambling, no hesitation. Hesitation will lead to more questions and more work.
    Refer to other documents, web pages etc proving a point.
    Delegate further investigation to the one asking, especially when you are uncertain.

    This makes responding faster and offloads work/time. This approach works best if the situation also has order on the reference material that is relevant to the discussion, like specifications, agreements etc, so I tend to be document/information manager as well.

  2. Sophie-Kim Chapman

    Unfortunately I think the article has it right in terms of behaviour in big business. The premise is that the more important you are, the more people should have to chase you. It’s the same idea that leads to “important” people always being in meetings and impossible to get time with. Imagine how much more effective big business could be if these ridiculous ego games disappeared overnight. Sadly, I don’t think they will. I don’t think it boils down to whether the currency of status is time or information. I think it boils down to whether the currency of business is status or substance.

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