The Fast and the Furious

Over my years of school in Ireland, I remember reading several versions both classical and modern of Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare. You remember? The hare jokes to the tortoise about how slow she is, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race, the hare is so much faster that he decides to have a little nap on the way, during which time the tortoise slowly but surely edges her way past the hare to the finishing line. Each time we worked on the story, we celebrated the virtue of maintaining a consistent, steady pace in life, and so I grew up with the idea that a reliable, step-by-step approach was the best way of dealing with most tasks.

In projects I have worked on in recent years I often felt that my German counterparts shared this value. They obviously felt most comfortable solidly building the system, filling it to schedule with ever greater detail. That was mostly not how the American side worked, though. Often late and usually incomplete, the American side seemed to lose interest for long periods of precious project time. Then suddenly they would burst into a fever of activity, redefining parameters and demanding fast answers for immediate closure. And sometimes, they just left their dazzled partners right behind them. In the modern version, Aesop’s hare has a built-in wake-up call.

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