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【中英阅读】不必匆忙 赞美“拖延”
freeto(2016/7/11 16:17:30)  点击:19277  回复:0  
Schumpeter

熊彼特专栏

No rush

不必匆忙

In praise of procrastination

赞美“拖延”

THERE is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. This columnist finds that, whenever his editor starts yapping, his mind focuses on the following subjects. (1) His toenails. Surely they need to be cut? (2) Walter Russell Mead. What is the bearded sage saying about East Timor in his blog? (3) His dogs. They seem desperate for a walk. (4) His inbox. It would be rude not to reply to that graduate student from the University of Tomsk.

没有什么像截止日期一样能够让人“精神集中”。本专栏作者发现,每当他的编辑开始大喊大叫时,他脑子里想的就集中在以下几件事上:(1)他的脚趾甲。它们确实该剪了吗?(2)沃尔特.米德。这个大胡子的智者在博客中发表了关于东帝汶的什么看法?(3)他的狗。它们似乎迫切地想要出去遛遛。(4)他的收件箱。不回复托木斯克大学毕业生发来的邮件是不礼貌的行为。

Life is getting trickier for timewasters. Businesses that depend on just-in-time delivery cannot tolerate lateness. Stockmarkets trade millions of shares every minute. Twenty-four-hour news channels bombard us with information. Blogs and tweets provide a blizzard of instant comment. The situation is so dire that a quarter of Americans eat fast food every day.

对那些浪费时间的人来说,生活正变得更加棘手。依赖准时交货的企业不能容忍货物迟交。每分钟有数百万的股份在股票市场进行交易。24小时新闻频道用信息“炮轰”着我们。博客和推特提供大量的即时评论。形势如此严峻,以至于四分之一的美国人每天都吃快餐。

Employers are getting better at squeezing out time-wasting. ODesk, an American firm that links employers with freelances over the internet, boasts that its software gives buyers an “unprecedented ability” to monitor the people they hire. Last year the Tokyo Stock Exchange shortened its lunch break from a leisurely 90 minutes to a miserable 60. High-tech companies such as Google and Hewlett-Packard used to pride themselves on giving their employees time to pursue their own projects. Now they are either cutting back on “tinkering time” or policing it more carefully. And employees are policing themselves: digital tools such as RescueTime allow you to ration your access to the internet or to incoming e-mail.

在杜绝浪费时间上,雇主们正变得更加精明。美国ODesk公司通过网络建立起雇主和自由职业者之间的联系。令该公司引以为豪的是,它的软件给了买主们一种“前所未有的能力”,这些买主可以通过该软件监视他们雇佣的人。去年,东京股票交易所缩短了午间休市时间,从宽裕的90分钟缩短至只有区区60分钟。谷歌、惠普等高科技公司过去以给员工们时间追求他们自己的项目而感到自豪,现在它们不是缩短了“鼓捣时间”,就是更为仔细地控制这一时间。而且员工们也在自我控制:诸如RescueTime(一款时间管理软件)的各种数字工具能够让你对上网和查收邮件设定时间限制。

Compensation is becoming more short-term. The proportion of Americans who are paid by the hour has been rising since the 1970s. Today 59% of Americans (including professionals such as lawyers) are paid by the hour.

报酬也正变得更为短期。自20世纪70年代起,按小时付报酬的美国人的比例一直在增加。今天,59%的美国人(包括像律师这样的专业人士)都是按小时付工资。

But is it wise to be so obsessed with speed? High-speed trading can lead to market meltdowns, as almost happened on May 6th 2010, unless automatic breaks are installed. And is taking one’s time so bad? Regulators are always warning people not to buy things in the heat of the moment. Procrastinators have a built-in cooling-off period. Businesses are forever saying that they need more creativity. Dithering can help. Ernest Hemingway told a fan who asked him how to write a novel that the first thing to do was to clean the fridge. Steven Johnson, a writer on innovation, argues that some of the best new products are “slow hunches”. Nestlé’s idea of selling coffee in small pods went nowhere for three decades; now it is worth billions.

但是如此“痴迷”于速度是明智的吗?高速交易能导致市场崩溃,2010年5月6号发生的事几乎就是这样,除非安装自动停板系统。而且“慢慢来”不好吗?监管者总是警告人们不要冲动购物。拖延者会在心里给自己设定一段冷静期。企业们永远在说它们需要更多的创造力。犹豫可以帮助它们产生创造力。欧内斯特•海明威的一位粉丝曾经问他如何写一部小说,海明威告诉他第一件要做的事是清理冰箱。谈论创新思维的作者史蒂芬•杰克逊认为一些最好的新作品都是“渐进式灵感”的产物。雀巢公司将咖啡装在胶囊里出售的想法曾经30年没有出路,现在它却价值数十亿。

These thoughts have been inspired by two (slowly savoured) works of management theory: an obscure article in the Academy of Management Journal by Brian Gunia of Johns Hopkins University; and a popular new book, “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay”, by Frank Partnoy of San Diego University. Mr Gunia and his three co-authors demonstrated, in a series of experiments, that slowing down makes us more ethical. When confronted with a clear choice between right and wrong, people are five times more likely to do the right thing if they have time to think about it than if they are forced to make a snap decision. Organisations with a “fast pulse” (such as banks) are more likely to suffer from ethical problems than those that move more slowly. (The current LIBOR scandal engulfing Barclays in Britain supports this idea.) The authors suggest that companies should make greater use of “cooling-off periods” or introduce several levels of approval for important decisions.

这些想法受启发于两大(需要慢慢品味的)管理理论作品:其一是刊登在《管理科学学报》上的一篇深奥的文章,作者是约翰霍普金斯大学的Brian Gunia,其二是一本广受欢迎的新书《等待:拖延的艺术与科学》,作者是圣迭戈大学的弗兰克•帕特诺伊。Gunia和他的三位合著者以一系列的实验论证:放慢速度可以使我们的行为更加合乎道德。当人们面对在对与错之间做出清晰的选择时,如果他们有时间思考,选择做正确的事情的可能性要比他们被迫迅速做出决定大五倍。那些“脉搏跳得很快”的机构(如银行)比那些慢得多的机构遭遇道德问题困扰的可能性更大(眼下英国巴克莱银行卷入LIBOR丑闻一事就支持了这样的观点)。两位作者建议公司们应该更多地利用“冷静期”或者引入多个层级批准重要的决定。

Mr Partnoy argues that too many people fail to recognise what good public speakers and comedians all understand: that success depends on knowing when to delay, and for how long. The important thing is not to do things first but to do them right. And doing them right often involves taking a bit more time.

弗兰克•帕特诺伊认为太多人没有认识到好的公众演讲者和喜剧演员都明白的一点:成功靠的是知道什么时候拖延,以及拖延多长时间。重要的不是把事情做快,而是把事情做对。而且把事情做对通常花的时间要更多一点。

It’s Just Lunch, a dating agency for professionals, prevents customers from judging each other on first impressions by not allowing them to post their photos on its website. Warren Buffett, the world’s most successful investor, holds stocks for the long term rather than churning them. He writes that: “lethargy bordering on sloth remains the cornerstone of our investment style.” Fabius Maximus, a Roman general nicknamed “The Delayer”, wore Hannibal’s invading army down by avoiding pitched battles.

一家为专业人士提供约会服务的机构It's Just Lunch不允许客户在网上上传自己的照片,以防止他们通过第一印象评判彼此。世界上最成功的投资者沃伦•巴菲特是长期持有股票,而不是经常倒换股票。他写道:“近乎于懒惰的怠倦一直是我们投资风格的基石。”绰号“拖延者”的古罗马将军Fabius Maximus就是通过避免大规模作战而将汉尼拔•巴卡的入侵部队拖垮的。

Make haste slowly

放慢你匆忙的脚步

Delay even works in fields where time might seem to be of the essence. Doctors and pilots can profit from following a checklist, even when doing things they have done many times before. A list slows them down and makes them more methodical, as Atul Gawande describes in “The Checklist Manifesto”. The best sportsmen wait until the last split second before hitting the ball.

甚至在时间可能看上去及其重要的领域,拖延也是发挥作用的。即使是在做之前做过很多次的事情,医生和飞行员按照清单做事也是有好处的。正如阿图·葛文德在他的“清单宣言”中描述的那样,一份清单能够使他们放慢速度,让他们更加有条不紊。最好的运动员都是在最后一刹那才击球。

Mr Partnoy argues that people need to learn how to manage delay just as they learn how to manage everything else. Sometimes putting things off makes sense: the silliest impositions on our time occasionally have the decency to self-combust. Still, the rules of sensible time-management apply to procrastinators as much as everyone else. Don’t delay tackling problems that will grow worse if ignored, such as your credit-card bill. And create a to-do list to fool yourself into doing your second-most-important job while procrastinating over the most important one.

弗兰克•帕特诺伊认为人们需要学习如何管理拖延,就像他们学习管理其它事情一样。有时拖延事情是有道理的:the silliest impositions on our time occasionally have the decency to self-combust(这句实在无能为力了)。然而,合理的的时间管理的规则和其他任何人一样也适用于拖延者。有些问题如果忽视就会变得更为严重,处理这样的问题时就不应该拖延,比如你的信用卡账单。而且列一个要做什么事情的清单,在你拖延最重要的工作时,“哄骗”自己去做重要度排在第二位的工作。

This sounds too clever by half. But Mr Partnoy is right to warn against business’s growing obsession with speed for its own sake. And he is right to skewer the notion, always popular among managers, that time can be sliced up into segments of equal worth. The secret of modern brain work is that it requires a combination of fast and slow. Brain workers dither for ages but then are struck by a flash of insight or a burst of creativity. Remove all deadlines and you are left with dithering. Become too obsessed with deadlines and you are left with the intellectual equivalent of fast food—and toenails that need cutting.

这听起来未免过于聪明了。但是弗兰克•帕特诺伊对企业为了自己的发展越来越“痴迷”于速度提出警告是正确的。而且他反对在管理者中始终很流行的观点,即时间可以被切分成等值的部分也是正确的。现代大脑工作的秘诀是要求快慢结合。脑力工作者犹豫的时间很久但是犹豫过后会突然闪现一个深刻见解或者爆发创造力。取消所有的截止日期会使你一直犹豫不决。老是想着截止日期你脑子里想的事情就只剩下快餐和需要剪的脚趾甲了。
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