Here’s an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review Article titled “Why Organizations Don’t Learn,” that points out how being (too) action oriented can actually be detrimental to performance and productivity. Here’s the excerpt:
How do you usually respond when you are faced with a problem in your organization? If you’re like most managers, you choose to take some kind of action. You work harder, put in even longer hours, and place added stress on yourself. You’re more comfortable doing something, even if it is counterproductive and doing nothing is the best course of action.
Consider professional soccer goalies and their strategies for defending against penalty kicks. According to a study by Michael Bar-Eli and colleagues, those who stay in the center of the goal, rather than leaping to the right or left, perform the best: They have a 33.3% chance of stopping the ball. Nonetheless, goalies stay in the center only 6.3% of the time. Why? Because it looks and feels better to have missed the ball by diving, even if it turns out to have been in the wrong direction, than to have stood still and watched the ball sail by.
The same aversion to inaction holds true in the business world. When we surveyed participants in our executive education classes, we found that managers feel more productive executing tasks than planning them. Especially when under time pressure, they perceive planning to be wasted effort.
This bias toward action is detrimental to improvement if one doesn’t take the time to think through an action or process before moving forward. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “Plans are meaningless, but planning is essential.” Planning for a desired outcome, personally or professionally, is essential to performing at a higher level.