I ripped through Vince Poscente‘s The Age of Speed in probably about the time it was intended to be read – an airplane ride. He had a fun chapter on those kinetic new-age knowledge working noise-makers, or what he calls “bottle rockets.” You know them – these are people who embrace speed over substance. Bottle Rockets toss off emails as quickly as they come in, lob ideas during conversations without listening clearly or having strong understandings of the issues involved, and generally pursue speed to the point of explosive uncontrollability. Their trajectories are always errant and inevitably terminate nose first into the ground.
Shortly after this book we had the opportunity to film Eddie Obeng at London Business School, who made a similar analogy and suggested that people recognize this behavior and in fact prey on it. People recognize Bottle Rockets and constantly ping them knowing they are readily willing to shoot off in tangents. His philosophy is to turn the equation upside down. Eddie says the way to stay focused is to start with the end in mind. Clearly articulate the end goal and work neatly backward removing extraneous activities and collaborations. By starting with the end, you and your team can collaborate with intent and focus.