Speed Vs. Accuracy

I caught the Light Trail of the International Space Station from

A few years ago my friend Joe Sorge introduced me to the morning pages.

Joe is a very successful restauranteur and entrepreneur who coached me in the early stages of me being on my own.

Simple Advice, Just Write

At one point I was struggling with a few things in the business.

His advice was simple; just sit down and write in the morning.

He advised me to do it for 14 days without even looking back on what I wrote.

I followed his advice and many business opportunities aligned themselves in a matter of days.

A Reset to Re-Align my Goals

Everytime I feel I need to re-align my business, I experiment with this writing exercise.

Two weeks ago I switched up the exercise I have been calling the morning pages a bit.

I am writing at least:

  • 3 handwritten pages
  • and then jumping on the computer and writing at least 1,000 words.

All that writing happens way before I do anything else in the morning.

Morning’s Pages exercise is from the book the Artists’ Way. It’s an exercise to get your creative juices flowing.

Although making mistakes is ok and I don’t need to go back and fix them while I write. I realize that when I type on the computer I go faster but I make more mistakes. I also unconsciously go back and fix them. Just as I wrote this sentence, I went back at least once.

With speed comes the mistakes

During my days as a cashier at Sam’s club, I remember getting stressed out by seeing a long line. That would trigger me into going faster in an attempt to get everyone through as quickly as possible. But Wal-Mart (Sam’s Club Parent Company) was more interested in accuracy than speed.

The metrics established to measure the performance of a cashier was to eliminate errors. The volume of business that Sam’s Club creates makes little mistakes to add up. Given I got paid almost minimum wage, I was more concerned about my inner peace and that of my customers. I like to believe that my sense of urgency brought peace to some of those that I served.

Better Customer Experience

Waiting less in line was something some of my regulars enjoyed. I would see some regulars get in my line even if it was a bit longer tham other lines. I got more people through in less time and they left with a better experience (waiting less).

What I was being Measured on Suffered

People left a bit happier but my performance metrics suffered. There was no way I would be cashier of the month. I was thinking of the customer first and Wal-Mart is not known for customer experience; they are known for low prices.

I was in my late teens and slowing down was not an option. I wanted to keep myself entertained and my ego fed by being one of the fastest cashiers.

Speed also brought me the Hardest to Deal Customers

That also attracted the pickiest customers. These customers wanted me to rush through their order and listen to their complaints. To top it all off, it also brought many scammers who use to try to push through items or not give me enough cash.

The Vending Machine Scammer

I remember a Sam’s club member who owned a bunch of vending machines. Every time he came, he would make purchases of at least $5k.

His method was using $1 bills so the cashier would have to count. Take a moment and imagine having to ring up a $5k or more sale on small items and then having to count one dollar bills while others waited in line.

He usually scouted out new cashiers or the ones that appeared to be in a hurry.

The scammer was successful many times and had many cashiers come up short in cash. He stole from Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart did not appreciate that. So to counter his actions a flag would be raised when anyone scanned his membership card.

Sam’s local leadership had alerted us to call over a supervisor to “help” us. The help was more like a monitoring the whole transaction to put pressure on the scammer and confirm it was him.

I remember a few weeks after I started the job he arrived in my register.

He gave me blocks of cash with a hundred $1 dollar bills.  Between those stacks he had a few that where missing different amounts. If you where in a rush then you would end up short on cash.

When I paused on each block of $100 he tried to put pressure to move faster. This was an important part of his scam. He would complain about service and mention he was in a hurry.

In my case I had already experienced facing drill sergeants in Army Basic Training at Fort Knox.  Those 12 weeks of my life had prepared me to not give in, when under pressure.

He failed at trying to get me to give in to his scam and pressure. If I can recall almost every other block of bills was missing cash. Thankfully with the help of a supervisor I was able to stop him.

He had to pay the full amount and my cash register did not end up short. The guy left complaining about my service and questioning my skills as an employee.

He was definitely a pro at getting his way.

Lesson learned

Looking back at that scenario helped me understand that there was a big difference. I was not trying to rush I was trying to be faster.

After that experience and over the years I realized how important it is to take our time. By rushing I might attract the wrong clientele.

Interesting fact is that I did win an All Star Cashier award while at Sam’s Club.

On the month I barely touched a cash register, I was supporting another department for the full month. I had no errors because I had only worked two days of the month on a cash register .

Confirming again Wal-Mart’s metrics were just a bit off.

The Importance of Accuracy

I no longer shop or support Wal-Mart. But if I learned one thing from them early on was the importance of Accuracy.

Being able to slow down and get things right the first time can make a big difference.

Over the years I’ve seen an improvement in my writing because I have learned to take my time.

I also take my time coding a website and looking at how it operates, creates a better product for many.

Speed or Accuracy?

Time has shown me that accuracy is a lot more important than speed.

Although there will be occasion where speed needs to be chosen over accuracy, I just have to read those situations better.

What situations are you rushing through that might need a bit more time from you?