Quality vs. Quantity

Which of the two circus performances most appeal to you:

  • A fast-paced performance of many smaller acts. They start quickly, get to the point and then are gone almost as quickly. Your mind races to keep up with all that you are experiencing-and is exhausted after the show.
  • A moderately-paced performance that has fewer acts, but that are of significant length and complexity. Your mind is able to evaluate, analyze and reflect on each performance, and the skills of the performers in them. You are still mentally exhausted after the show, but leave with a feeling that you have experienced something meaningful.

The answer, for most of us, is the second performance. Strangely enough, though, we carry out our work days more like the first one. We dart from ring to ring, performing a quick task, and then jumping from that ring to another just long enough to do something else. Quality takes a back seat to sheer quantity.

Imagine your work day more like the second performance. You take more time to strategically plan each task. You aren't as concerned about gettting everything done as much as you are focused on accomplishing the right things. Quality is your main concern.

This dynamic tension of quality vs. quantity is critical for leaders or managers to grasp as well. People can be extremely busy (quantity) but are they really productive (quality)? And if you don't know the answer to that question, it may be time for you to spend a little more time thinking about your role as ringmaster of your department, team or organization.