Gregory Ronczewski is the Director of Product Design at TeamFit – view his profile on TeamFit

 

Summer is over, or at least it feels that way. It’s the time to return to daily routines and focus on work. Places we’ve visited will still linger in the back of our heads, but they will slowly fade away. For me, it means getting back into the writing habit. One post per week so here is the first one after a long break.

With the time off, holidays, vacations, visiting family—although often we are rushing from one place to another—we tend to slow down a bit. After all, when is the next time when we can sit together? It is a moment for reflection as well as a time when we look back trying to remember, or rather encode, events of the past so they will be preserved. It takes time, and it takes a different state of mind. As the light outside changes from day to night, there is no desire to end the conversation. There is no rush.

On my last visit to the bookstore before we left Poland for Canada—I love those last minute visits with unexpected finds, mainly how they affect all the neatly packed and weighed suitcases—I picked up a book by Umberto Eco Pape Satàn aleppe. It’s a collection of Eco’s small pieces that he wrote for different magazines. On page 366 (Polish edition, the book, as far as I know, has not been yet translated into English) there is an entry called The pleasure of lingering. The starting point lies in an invitation Eco received from Harvard University to participate in the series of lectures called “Norton Lectures.” Eight years earlier, Italo Calvino participated in the same program. Unfortunately, he passed away before he was able to complete his sixth lecture. In one of his lessons, Calvino wrote a piece on Quickness, so Eco being Eco, decided to look at the opposite.

One of the pleasures of reading Pape Satàn aleppe is the fact that the small editorial pieces are short and ideally suited for a morning commute. The format of the newspaper column requires quite a bit of restraint in word count. As a result, we have two, three pages to read and then a pause to think. For sure, you can binge-read, but what’s the point? The more I think about how we are surrounded by the pressure to do everything faster and faster, the more I like the idea of slowing down. Reading Umberto Eco quickly would be a horrible thing. He refers to what Woody Allen described as his fast reading technique in which you supposed to move your sight diagonally through the page scanning the content. “This is how I read War and Pace. It was about Russia.” He also brings in Monsieur Humbolt from Ollendorf Publishing House, who rejected À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time) by Proust commenting that “he could not understand how one could dedicate 30 pages to describe how a person turns in bed before falling asleep.” He was not a fan of slowing things down, and in a way, he was right, it’s hard to read without a mind that is not rushing forward.

Why reference Proust, Eco and Leo Tolstoy? A while ago, I wrote a post in which I challenged the notion of getting the skill profile done in the fastest way. My point was to slow down. Think carefully. Reflect on the past projects and skills applied. We are under so much pressure to work faster, be flexible, be nimble. Change career paths with just a few clicks. Sure, it can be done, but does it make sense? There is stiff resistance to getting everything on the fast track. Look at Kinfolk Magazine. Is it a concept of slow living or just normal living? Not everything needs to microwaved. I don’t think we need to stop making fast decisions. Fast is good, but slow is good as well. Like good music – we have Lento (slowly) and Adagio (slow and stately) movements. But we also have Presto (very fast) and Allegro Vivace (lively and fast). It’s about the contrast and scale. Let’s look at the flood of the real estate adverts selling Micro Loft concept. Seriously, is it really a good idea to live on 291 square feet space? 2910 square feet will be an overkill, but 291? Where is the human scale? Anyhow, my point is that there are moments when we benefit from how fast we can accomplish a task, but at the same time we should cherish the moment when there is a pause, a reflection, a dedicated time to finish something.

For some time now we’ve been looking at Competency Models. By the way, if you have any thoughts or ideas on the subject, by all means, drop us a line. Or, if you have 10 minutes to spare, take this survey (most people are finishing it in seven minutes, but take your time and think about how you are answering). What we have found so far is the fact that building a Competency Model is a prolonged process (Larghissimo). Also, we have found that self-assessment is fundamental to connecting the model to the actual people. This portion needs reflection and time (Andante Moderatoto capture skill profile fully. The last piece has to do with the future. For the Model to be useful, not only at the manager level but also on the individual level, the Competency Model has to connect to the Learning Plan. These are the skills that I have. This is how my profile matches (or not) against the Competency Model. And this is how I can improve my the match. If the last piece is a function of our algorithm, then it will be covered Presto.

Eco brings into the conversation an Italian book, Letteratura lenta nel tempo della fretta by Anna L. Buzzola. The author looks at the broader impact on our lives created by “living fast.” Now, the book is only in Italian so for me, there are two options, both reasonably slow: perhaps on my next last visit to the bookstore (a ten months wait) I will find a Polish translation? Or I can take on the Italian. Why not? It will take years to master, but there is no rush, or is there?