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  • The Imperatıves Of An Organızatıon Buılt For Speed

    In Greek mythology, Hydra, an ancient water-serpent, had many heads. If one head was cut off, two rapidly grew in its place before another head could be cut off — an energy-sapping disappointment for any opponent trying to overcome it. Regenerative speed made the Hydra formidable. Even Hercules, the legendary Greco-Roman hero, needed his nephew's assistance to win. To sustain a competitive edge, your company's new business development engines must similarly fire on all cylinders at supersonic speed.  As a CEO or a leader of a business, how do you build this competency? Measure, motivate and model.

    Measure: Measure Your Company's  "Heart Rate" And Optımıze For Speed
    Every team, business unit and/or company as a whole, has an underlying execu¬tion rhythm. At the most basic level this may be an individual's task completion rate (TCR). Setting a TCR of 2 weeks would mean any task you give to another or take from another needs to be done in 2 weeks. Imagine every employee putting a red sticky on a company-wide virtual whiteboard when an assigned task isn't comp¬leted in the allotted two weeks. With an explosion of stickies, you know that either the task allocator (a project manager) is not breaking down the task into a meaningful two-week chunk, or the doer (a low rung employee or a high rung decision maker etc) is not able to complete the task, or perhaps there are ot¬her variables. While this is a crude example, it illustrates the importance of tracking, doer-allocator transparency and an implicit service level agreement across team members, which encourages "good enough" instead of perfect, thus optimizing for speed. Just as agile product deve¬lopment methods, such as Scrum, use process and trac¬king tools to set and track execution rhythm, so must the organization's leader measure and monitor to ensure useful output. After all, you can't improve what you can't measure.

    Motıvate: Instıll The Sense Of Urgency
    The best way is to expose employees to "the jungle." Too often, front-line sales people, but not necessarily the engineer or financi¬al analyst deep in the organization, can "feel" the compe¬tition. Simple steps such as sending them to a conference dominated by a competitor, or having them listen to a tough sales/ customer service call can get their emotional investment. Some may be motivated by threats, others by solutions and the impact they can have on the world. In case of the latter, define compe¬tition as the worsening of a current problem statement. Regardless, one needs to "feel the jungle" to adopt a sense of urgency.

    You must role model to lead the way. First, don't be the bottleneck. Empower and delegate decisions so people aren't waiting for your decisions or resource allocation requests any longer than the desired TCR. When the stakes are high and you need to decide, lead, even when in doubt. Innovation by nature is uncertain and your job is to realize what is knowable, what is not, and how to move forward to eliminate critical unknowns. So, stop looking for data that doesn't add to your deci¬sion and stop using the lack of data to procrasti¬nate on hard decisions. Speed must be a fac¬tor in your consideration.

    Finally, as this I Love Lucy video illustrates very aptly, you can't speed up the belt forever. When moving faster would result in over-uti¬lization or amplifying skill gaps, find new ways. Can you buy instead of build? Form partners¬hips and alliances for mutual benefit? Fail-fast to enter a white space with a higher probability of success?
    Ultimately, every organization — whet¬her a nimble start-up or a large, established firm — needs to find ways to speed up or be left behind. These three simple rules can help you move faster.