Noticing the automatic means slowing down to grasp where the organisation runs on autopilot, in order to speed up decision-making later when real-time challenges and opportunities have clearly been identified and processed. It is a fallacy to think that today’s business world has no time to take a genuine look at day to day operations and examine what information gets missed, or misunderstood, because people and teams are not genuinely awake to today’s work reality. Organisations often run on autopilot and do things because they have always been done that way. In the 90s organisations recognised this, and with the movement towards Lean Thinking spent a huge amount of effort and budget on process re-engineering. This increased productivity in key activities, but many of those processes have not been examined since. Many day to day routines, practices and meetings still happen because no one has the time to review and replace.
Teams need to develop a language and a set of rituals that help them approach day-to-day operations with the motivation to look at routine situations with fresh eyes. Teams need to be encouraged and rewarded to do this, and leaders need to create time and space for this “slowing down” activity. Our experience shows that organisations who manage to achieve this often “speed up” in many ways that bring strategic long-term benefits.