Nothing wastes more time than random activity.

During a leadership training at McKinsey in Chicago, we were split into teams and given a task: From cardboard kits for building toy planes, we had to build the most number of planes in a given time.

We thought it was a fun team-building exercise.

The plane assembly had multiple steps, e.g., folding, cutting, and gluing the pieces. But we weren’t sure if each person should do one task (assembly-line style) or assemble a full plane.

To avoid wasting time, we just started building the planes haphazardly without any process or planning, and it became a mess.

We lost.

It turned out that the assembly-line technique, as well as each person doing a full plane, were equally efficient. The key thing was to have a process — any process.

But instead of taking a few minutes to decide the process, to save time, we jumped right in.

And that hurry killed our chances.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten a lesson I had learned in the police: Always take the time to aim before you shoot.

In life, whenever you feel the panic, don’t jump in. There is ALWAYS time to think and plan, remove any bottlenecks, and sharpen your knife.

Nothing wastes more time than random activity.

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