The cadence theory posits that, in business, there is a cadence that goes on automatically in each and every action. This cadence is the same for each and every action, and it is the one that makes the action automatic. Actions that occur in a cadence are more efficient, so they are more likely to work.
One of the best examples of this theory comes up again and again. In his book, “The Power of Habit,” psychologist Albert Bandura made the point that if you were to watch someone do something repeatedly, you would experience a positive learning effect. That is, if you watch someone do something, you will be more likely to do it next time. This theory is based on the idea that our brain learns better when we do something repetitively.
In fact, Bandura’s idea of a cadence seems to be more relevant for productivity than for most things we do. One study found that if you were to do something repetitively, you could expect to gain a 10% boost in productivity. Bandura’s idea seems to be that we’re all in some sort of a “cadence” state where we are more efficient, so we’re more likely to do it again.
Our brain is pretty good at learning from repetition, and we can perform a cadence if we want too. For instance, if you were to do a repetitive task that required lots of cognitive effort, then you will be more likely to just go ahead and do it again. The problem is that the repetitive task itself might not be that good. For instance, if you were to count to ten and then do a repetitive action, it might not be so efficient.
You might be thinking that this is a problem in itself, but it’s actually a very real problem that we face in business. That is, if you have a very high performing process (as in, you need to repeat a lot of things very fast) then you might not be able to do that process in a way that is efficient. If you were to repeat a process too often, you might end up wasting a lot of time.
The problem with business is repeating too much. Even with all of the advances in computer technology that we have made, our lives still seem to be about repeating the same things over and over again. For instance, you might be a doctor who performs a ton of surgeries on patients every year. You might be a surgeon who performs hundreds of surgeries a year. You might be a dentist who performs thousands of surgeries a year. You might be a salesperson who does a lot of phone calls.
In business, we repeat our efforts because we are not robots. A lot of our actions are automated and repetitive so they don’t have to be as conscious as we do. Even if we were to change our actions from routine to conscious, it would take us a while to get used to the new routine. Also, changes to our actions can take time to become part of our memory.
We usually have a better memory for things we do every day than we do things we do every two weeks. For example, if I go into a store and buy $2,000 worth of groceries, I probably won’t remember buying them when I walk out with $1,000. However, if I go to the store and buy $2,000 worth of groceries while wearing my new pajamas I may remember doing it.
In other words, it can take a while to adjust to not remembering things you do every day. The next time you go to the grocery store make sure you pay attention to the time.