Design What You Want Or Deal With What You Get

01/04/2017 03:04 pm ET

We all want our company to be able to respond at the "speed of business." We admire executives who are "action oriented." Yet springing into action may not be the fastest way to accomplish a goal. It seems like common sense: take a little time to understand the result you want, and then lay out the steps to achieve them. However, in a world in which multitasking, urgency, and shifting priorities is the norm, it can be easy to bypass that bit of common sense.

Let's say Monique, a Marketing Manager, loses one of her team members, an SEO Specialist. Monique alerts the Recruiter, Jeff, and tells him the need is urgent. Jeff springs into action and posts ads on the major job boards, using the generic job description he has on file. Within a week Jeff has almost 100 résumés on his desk, and he diligently screens them down to what he believes are the top five candidates.

Monique: "These people are all from Fortune 1000 companies."

Jeff: "I know! Great, huh? They really should know their stuff."

Monique: "I need people with SEO experience for small business websites. Doing SEO for large corporate sites is a whole different animal."

Jeff: "Oh."

You can picture Jeff's process as a pyramid: the peak represents the small amount of time Jeff spent in preparation (on the left in the graphic). He then had to spend a lot of time going through résumés of people who weren't a good fit. Not only that, but now he has to start over. The base of Jeff's pyramid, which represents the amount of time he spent, has become very wide.

He should have inverted the pyramid. By investing more time up front, he could have saved a lot of time down the road. The up-front work should have included getting clarity from Monique on just what she is looking for. It could have included done some research into where to find these unique candidates. Maybe there are user groups of LinkedIn, or professional associations dedicated to small business website SEO. It also might have included finding out what motivates this target group, and writing the ad to highlight the ways in which this open position appeals to those motivations.

Jeff still will have to cull through résumés, but this batch is more likely (1) to be smaller, as candidates without small business SEO experience select themselves out, (2) to have a higher percentage of candidates who are a good fit, and (3) to include candidates who are truly interested.

It's great to get results fast, but only if those results are of good quality. Any time you are tempted to rush, remind yourself: "If I don't take the time to design what I want, I'll be stuck dealing with what I get."

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