I just let things set a while. If nobody asks about it, that means they wasn’t all that interested in it in the first place.
I can still hear this being said. Poor grammar notwithstanding, it was the accent that made the quote even more impactful. Slow and thick as molasses in January, my friend epitomized the deep South. I was working in Atlanta after graduation, selling “office furniture solutions” to people with limited cash flow. Yea…rent to own. My first experience in the holy trinity of low-esteem business. I’ve also worked in for-profit education and the auto retail! All that’s left is a stint in politics.
Anyway, my buddy fully embraced the idea of, “why do today what you can ignore for a week or so and hope will go away.” Mind you, this was in the days before pagers, cell phones, email, and social media. When voice mail was relatively new. If you called someone and got them, you spoke. If you missed them, you called back later. Letters took days and memos were either dictated or handwritten to be composed by someone else at a later time. It was a simpler time where if you wanted an immediate response you got up and walked over to talk to someone. At the time I called his “low urgency” strategy Southern Management.
Enterprise software that tracked every action and created millions of data points would have to wait. Managers didn’t have computers; that was for people in labs. Typing was for secretaries. Al Gore had just entered the Senate and hadn’t even invented the Internet yet.
It was in this environment and context that my friend’s foresight can be truly appreciated. As access to information exploded and communication channels proliferated, business people can find themselves drowning in communication. Everyone with an opinion either has a podcast, a blog, a webpage, a Twitter feed, or some other virtual stump from which to pontificate. Managers fire missives, reports are posted to the cloud for crowd edits, and we recreate virtual environments seeking to replicate actually talking to one another. Southern Management sounds like a way to cut through all the noise.
In hindsight my friend seems pretty savvy, eh? He’s a careful, calculating leader. He makes decisions carefully, ponders outcomes and waits for others to show their hand before playing his trump card. He weighs pros and cons. Uh no, he’s actually just a lazy sot who doesn’t want to commit.
For those students who have waited until the last week of the semester, let me relate another favorite saying from another friend of mine. From the corner of the bar as one of us trudged back, tail between our legs after being beaten to our next ex-girlfriend by some dude who stepped up sooner, my roommate would shake his head and say, “Ya wait long, ya wait wrong!”
If you waited until the last minute to do something you should have done earlier, you may be out of options. You had 14 weeks, roughly three and a half months, to complete a simple assignment. Maybe you talked about it. Maybe you ignored it. Maybe you waited for a better opportunity to come along. Maybe you never sought anything out hoping it would come to you. Whatever the reason, like a lonely suitor at closing time, you’ll probably be going home alone. You didn’t attend your activities and you will lose points for failing to do what you were supposed to do.
You don’t want to be reactionary or hasty. But sometimes good southern management is more than just waiting for the next best thing!