The Perils of Speed

The Perils of Speed: How could the Slow Movement help us treat ourselves and others better?

Collaboration with The North East Initiative on Business Ethics

Di Gates: Di has been running businesses and developing growth strategies for national and international clients for 20+years. From 2001 – 2009 she ran one of the North of England’s biggest creative agencies, growing the company to 20+ employees and £1.4 mil turnover, with a national reputation for social change campaigns. On exiting to an investor in 2009, she founded collaboration consultancy, Stick Theory, developing brand and commercial strategies for a range of clients from ambitious investor-backed start-ups to global household consumer brands.

 

Summary by D Rathmann, 10 Hamill

On 17th November, Di Gates, hosted a digital seminar about the slow movement and the negatives/risks of speed.  She opened the seminar by talking about how she was divorced in the summer of 2018 and how afterwards she discovered that life had been going too fast.  She described her life’s rhythm as ‘constantly fast’ and this made her consider whether or not faster is better.  Di quickly began to appreciate the benefits of thinking time and how this could be beneficial for businesses. She also discovered the value of having ‘real connections’ with people as she received a lot of support from friends and family after her divorce.

Di combined all these ideas and showed the benefits of them through one statement, ‘My Rhythm + real connections= contentment and sense of self’. This emphasised the value of not necessarily slowing down but living life at the ‘right pace’ and allowing time to think but then also to socialise with people you want to be around. Di then presented this logic being used in businesses, explaining that when she applied this lifestyle she had discovered her work productivity had increased and as a result the business had a 57% increase in profit.

As a result, Di decided to sell a half of her business and create a new one called ‘Stick Theory’. This business is focused on all the ideas Di had gained from her experiences in 2018, it involves working with the client in growing their business through the use of improved communication with customers and by planning a flexible but efficient business plan.

After creating ‘Stick Theory’, Di looked into the ideology of the ‘Slow Movement’. She showed us how the common view on technology is that faster is better and how that this view is not necessarily correct as Carl Honore had presented the negatives of speed and efficiency through his book ‘In praise of Slow About The Slow Movement’. In the book Carl displayed several thought-provoking questions: ‘Are we counting the costs? To human experience and connection? What happens if we continue on this trajectory? Is faster technology better?’. Di had reinforced this point by reminding us that platforms such as Instagram can present data that isn’t honest as their main goal is to retain user attention so the data being presented to the user is often things that are considered to be absurd/outrageous.

Di pointed to an organisation that supports and uses the slow movement, hence its name ‘Slow Food’. The Slow Food oranisation promotes local and traditional restaurants which serve authentic food in contrast to fast-food chains like McDonald’s where the emphasis is on speed rather than quality. Another example that Di used to showcase the Slow Movement, was an idea presented by Nicole Wong (former lawyer at Google and Twitter) that stated; ‘Historic focus Search: comprehensiveness, relevance and speed. Current focus Engage: What can we show people quickly to get them to stay? Future focus De-weaponise: Change the goal: authenticity over speed.  The idea here is that the current focus on technology is to make sure the user is engaged no matter how truthful the data is, this contradicts the previous focus that was to make sure that the data being received by the user is comprehensive and relevant.

Di ended the seminar by talking about how the Slow Movement is relevant now for businesses dealing with the current pandemic. Di said that ‘Slow Movement is more relevant and important than ever as it can be used as a model to help us prepare for our new emerging future’.  Di also said that ‘A slow business is a purposeful organisation designed for real humans’.

Key themes

The rhythm of life

The rhythm of life is the pace at which you operate on a day-to-day basis, you might take things slowly and deal with situations in a relaxed way or you might go through life incredibly fast, constantly doing something and then thinking about what you are going to do next. Di said that her rhythm had a big impact on her life since as soon she had reached a pace that balanced relaxation and work she saw great benefits. Her productivity had increased and she was able to establish real connections with people by taking the time to fully socialise with others.

The importance of meaningful relationships

As technology is updated it is becoming a regular trend that these new technologies are faster than their predecessors, as a result the authenticity of the data being presented to users can be frequently compromised in order to retain the user’s attention. This problem can affect online businesses because a lack of authenticity means there could potentially be a lack of trust between the firm and the client resulting in a bad image of the business. This is why Di’s business, ‘Stick Theory’ uses authenticity as a core value in order to assure clients that they can be trusted and that the communication between them will be meaningful and therefore productive. This idea can be used by smaller businesses in order for them to stand out from bigger businesses that may have used speed and automation to generate profit instead of authenticity and communication between clients.

Fake news

Fake news is a perfect example of speed over authenticity as the producer of this news would’ve mostly had one main goal which would be to gain attention/interest. As fake news is something communicated physically as well as digitally it bridges the gap between the untruthfulness found in media and the untruthfulness found in life. This therefore emphasises the importance of authentic digital communication as it can clearly have a big impact on the real world we live in.

Post-lockdown reset

Di’s final chapter got us thinking about how this lockdown period could help us re-evaluate and analyse our current priorities in life. This again links with the rhythm of life as most of us have had a lot more time to think about things whilst isolating, therefore we have had time to reflect on what we’ve been doing whether that be academically, socially etc. This shows that by having time to think things over we can tackle goals and problems a lot more efficiently as we will have had enough time to look at these goals and problems at every angle.

 

In summary, the key themes of Di’s seminar were:

  • The rhythm of life;
  • The imporatance of meaningful relationships – not just casual acquaintances;
  • Work-life balance and productivity;
  • Taking a real interest in the client – not just a number;
  • Fake news; and
  • Perhaps a time for us all to reset and appraise our priorities post-lockdown.