It doesn't even take a second: the arm is airborne, pistol in hand, gunshot a memory. If the gunslinger of the Old West didn't have a fast draw, he was dead. Today, several thousand competitors pay tribute to those men of speed by joining the World Fast Draw Association (WFDA), a club whose members compete in events held around the globe. Every year, shootists fire at a target to see who has the quickest trigger finger. "Some of the fastest draws take only a quarter of a second," observes Howard Darby, one of the wfda's ranking members. "A typical fast draw is just one-tenth of a second slower." Nobody's timed the slowest draw. Nobody cares.
The world moves fast--and it's getting faster. E-mail. E-commerce. E-everything. The world moves so fast, in fact, it's enough to make you fall fast asleep from exhaustion.
But don't! You don't have the time, according to Kelsey Biggers, executive vice president of Micro Modeling Associates, a technological consulting firm in New York City. "Industries are changing so quickly," he says, that--at least in terms of keeping up with technology--companies "need to accomplish in 90 days what traditionally took a year. The landscape is changing so quickly that if you tried to stick to your five-year plan, you'd be obsolete in six months."
"Yes, the world of business has really sped up," agrees Jeff Shuman, the director of entrepreneurial studies at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, "but one of the challenges entrepreneurs have to watch out for is not to get trapped operating at a speed of business that's out of sync with the natural rhythm of their particular company." This is the premise of Shuman's recent book, co-written with David Rottenberg, The Rhythm of Business: The Key to Building and Running Successful Companies (Butterworth-Heinemann).
"Speed for speed's sake is a problem, if you get stuck in that trap," says Shuman. "You've got to be very careful that you're dealing with the right pace [for] your business--as opposed to some arbitrary, outside mandate to move quickly."
A nice sentiment, but even Shuman concedes you'll need to move quickly if your customers demand you do so. Then the speed of business isn't so arbitrary, and you'd better rev up the Millennium Falcon--without crashing. "The reality," Shuman says, "is that customers are setting faster beats."
Geoff Williams is a freelance writer and a features reporter for The Cincinnati Post. He can fire off a water pistol in under a minute.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.