Stetson Rollins consulting

Slow Down, We're in a Hurry…The story behind our motto

Slow and steady wins the race according to the old folk tale about the tortoise gradually overtaking the hare to arrive first at the finish line. 

This is what our slogan, “Slow down, we’re in a hurry” suggests. Further, there is a story behind it that has to do with our work.

Back in the mid 80s we were working with a client group in a company located in Pennsylvania. Cost efficiencies imposed by management had created tensions between managers and the unionized craft workers they supervised. Our task was to mediate between union and management to rebuild a team spirit while also addressing day-to-day work-related issues.

For two and a half days the union and management team of 16 people with which we were engaged struggled to help each other “walk a mile in my shoes” by sharing stories and experiences of customer service calls, issues and complaints. The group was trying to understand why their intention to provide quality service at the best possible cost to the customer in the least amount of time wasn’t working. The client was a Fortune 500 company. The work of this group had implications for hundreds of other teams across the company that were struggling with the same issues.

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Management couldn't understand why the cost efficiencies they had installed seemed actually to be creating more problems. The work was costing more and customer satisfaction was dropping.

We had all listened as service workers told stories about hurrying to work at each job at a customer's premises, doing the assigned work, then rushing to the next job. The workers were being measured on time spent at each location by a standard set at corporate headquarters. The workers described increasing frustration because they knew the new time requirements forced them to cut corners; their bosses gave them a hard time if they spent more than the spec time on each job. The result: angry customers calling with unkind things to say about the company and threatening to go to the competition if things didn’t change. 

During a dialogue session about the root causes of the “problem” one of the youngest workers, who was low on the seniority list and who hadn’t said much at all, was asked by one of the facilitators in our firm if he would share what he was thinking. 

The young man looked around the group. We could all see that he was nervous and was mentally calculating how much he dared to say in front of his boss, in front of the union rep, in front of the top manager in the room and in front of his peers who were all senior to him. 

He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and said:

 “Well, when I came to work on this crew I was excited because they told me all about this Quality Program and my family is pretty big on doing things right the first time, so I paid careful attention. 

"Then, my boss told me about the time controls and how I have 23 minutes to get a new customer all hooked up. Well, I figured he must know ‘cause he’s making more money than I am, so I’ve tried my best. Once I got it done in 25 minutes and ran back out to my truck thinking I'd done good and then I realized I had forgot to do something. So I went back in and told the lady I was sorry, but I had to come back and fix something.  She watched me and then thanked me all the way to the door with her sick little baby in her arms. 

"The next day my boss told me she had called to give me a commendation. He told me he didn’t know what I had done, but to keep doing it that way. Well, I didn’t tell him that I had taken almost 40 minutes to do the job rather than 23, but I figured my Daddy would have been proud and I felt good knowing that lady had a sick child and needed that installed equipment in case of an emergency. 

"So, the way I see it we need to “slow down, because we’re in a hurry and we want to do it right the first time — for the customer and for ourselves. We all feel better when we know we've done a good job."

There was a long moment of silence in the room, then the group broke into APPLAUSE!  All his fellow craft workers started thumping this young man on the back and laughing. One of the senior craftsmen hollered “Well, he’s not a rookie any longer!"

All in the room, management and craft, understood that the young man had spoken for everyone.

The celebrations continued during the break that followed, and when the group returned to the room to debrief, the phrase "Slow down, we're in a hurry" became a metaphor for the team.

What came out of the debriefing was the depth of frustration experienced by the craft workers whenever they were forced to leave a premises with a job half done because of imposed time controls.

They then went into brainstorm groups and produced creative ideas for moving forward and working together with more efficiency and teamwork than they had ever imagined possible. They are operating at higher levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction to this day.

In addition, the brainstorming included speculation that the company was not only losing customers but also losing money when a second crew had to return the next day for the fix.

Going on that speculation the company then did a system-wide analysis of the actual cost in time and labor involved in the fixes, and found that the craft workers were right. The new policy designed to accelerate work and increase efficiencies was actually costing tens of millions of dollars.

This story spread across the company and "Slow down, we're in a hurry" then became a slogan for managing work processes.

In our role as consultants, our clients discover the value of slowing down in order to get things done with effectiveness and efficiency.

More importantly, the young craftsman struck on a deeper significance for working in this way. He said "We all feel better when we know we've done a good job". Working quickly and leaving a job half finished violates a core value held by almost all workers and managers, who want to do the best job possible.

Not only is it more cost effective to slow down and do it right the first time, this way of working is a source of pride, motivation and morale for an individual and for the team.


Bryant Rollins

Bryant Rollins, CEO

Email: Bryant Rollins

Bryant is a former Editor with The New York Times, and was a reporter and political columnist with the Boston Globe, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He was Executive Editor with the New York Amsterdam News.

Bryant has more than 30 years experience as a consultant on diversity, management and organizational effectiveness with Fortune 500 companies, colleges and universities, Federal, state, and local government and community-based organizations. He is widely published, bringing skills in analytical and narrative writing to his work.

Bryant worked with the Ford Foundation, administering a program for minority journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began consulting, training and writing on issues of race relations and diversity during the Civil Rights Movement in Boston, New York and Mississippi. He holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

He is the author of the novel, Danger Song, co-author of entertainer Cab Calloway’s autobiography, Minnie the Moocher and Me, and author of numerous articles on race relations and human differences. He has worked in domestic and international environments. He has been a member of the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences since 1968.


Shirley Stetson

Shirley Stetson, President

Email: Shirley Stetson

Shirley was a manager in the former Bell System for 20 years where she spent fifteen years as a line manager and five years in management training, organizational development and diversity consulting. She established her own organizational development consulting business, Innerconnections Unlimited, Inc., in 1987.

She has consulted with Fortune 500 firms, governmental agencies, community organizations and colleges and universities. Shirley has a deep interest in women’s issues and has focused much of her work on women as leaders in corporate and community organizations, nationally and internationally.

Shirley was part of the team that founded MountainTop Institute, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and organizations engage and reconcile their human differences. She served as Vice President and Director of Organizational Development from 1999 to 2008 when she and Bryant Rollins founded StetsonRollins Consulting, Inc, a private consulting practice.

Shirley joined the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences in 1986. She is a graduate of the Women’s Leadership Collaborative. She holds an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts in Management Development and Organizational Effectiveness, and a B.A. in Psychology from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.


Corporate Capabilities

StetsonRollins Consulting is known for the depth and quality of its consulting, training and insightful writing on issues of organizational effectiveness, diversity & inclusion, teambuilding, management, communication, executive coaching. With more than 50 years experience between them, Bryant and Shirley, have impacted more than 80,000 people in a variety of settings. They are proud to be among a small cadre of seasoned professionals who helped invent theories, strategies and operational practices in the field of diversity and inclusion as it relates to organizational effectiveness and community development.

StetsonRollins is based in Jacksonville, Florida. Our clients include Fortune 100 and 500 companies, Federal, state and city government entities, athletic teams, individual leaders, nonprofits, community groups and faith-based organizations. Our work helps clients to fundamentally transform their capacity to manage and master the engagement of their human differences. 

Our work focuses on personal growth, professional development, leadership development, teambuilding and organizational effectiveness. Bryant Rollins and Shirley Stetson have extensive experience in conflict transformation and mediation, in corporate and community settings.