The 48-Hour Rule
We can all agree that business today is traveling "faster than the speed of
thought." Yet, have we taken the time to acknowledge the skills and
approach needed to compete in today's fast-paced economy?
Whether you're trying to promote an idea, solve a problem, or push a
project forward, the tempo at which you operate will surely influence your
ultimate success. We no longer have the luxury of extended periods of time
to capture a market or command someone's attention because in today's
economy everything seems to move at high speed. Time is the very commodity
that is at risk today. We have more communication, more problems to solve
and more opportunities than ever before. What are the new rules? How fast
do we need to act? What failsafe methodology can we embrace to ensure that
we are in the driver's seat, at least most of the time?
The "48-hour rule" is one key to success. The 48-hour rule, simply
stated, stipulates that to more effectively seize a new opportunity you
should follow up or perform an action within 48 hours after interest has
been established. Why? Because after 48 hours momentum is lost. Mind share
is gone. New problems have arisen.
The 48-hour rule is easy to understand but difficult to implement. Most
people use a similar clock speed for every situation. How many times have
you left a meeting with a list of action items firmly planted in the
forefront of your mind only to return to your computer to find thirty new
e-mails requiring your immediate attention? The fresh ideas and actions
from your meeting go into the vortex of "to do's" crowding your digital
organizer only to be acted upon at a much later time. Your advantage is
How can you make the 48-hour rule work for you? Follow these six simple
steps and you will begin to adjust your clock speed. In doing so you will
differentiate yourself from the pack and reap significant rewards.
Steps to implement the 48-hour rule:
The first step is to acknowledge or agree with the concept. If you've
never considered the issue of timing as it relates to capturing a
competitive advantage, then now is the time to accept that Internet speed
is driving our world. We need new rules to help guide us through
cyberspace. As Bill Gates said in his book Business @ The Speed of
Thought, "If the 1980's were about quality and the1990's were about
reengineering, then the 2000's will be about velocity."
The second step is to analyze your current sense of urgency. How do you
react to opportunities that arise with clients, colleagues or your boss?
What is the typical lag time between an identified idea and action on your
part? Have you noticed a difference between the times when you've acted
right away versus the times when you've waited to respond?
Test the 48-hour rule. Pick a few important projects and take immediate
action after meetings or after new ideas are introduced. Learn to
prioritize those projects that are aligned to your goals. How does it
feel? How do others respond? Do the results differ from times when you've
waited three or four days (or more!) to act? Ask a couple of co-workers or
your manager for feedback. Have they noticed a difference?
Commit to the 48-hour rule. It may be a subtle change from your current
approach but as everyone knows, the difference between winners and losers
can be as small as a nanosecond.
Share the concept with your employees, teammates and others with whom
you work. Let them see you set the pace and how much is accomplished as a
result. Create an environment of momentum, progress and speed.
Reap the rewards. Embracing the 48-hour rule will differentiate you
with clients, colleagues and your boss. You will earn the reputation of a
doer and someone who knows how to get to the end zone. In a world of lots
of ideas but little ability to execute properly or expeditiously, you'll
It may take some effort to synchronize your approach over the long
term. Start slowly and try one new concept at a time. As you gain
efficiencies you will also gain time that will give you the momentum to