By Maximilian Clarke

Speed is now the most important weapon for businesses, a global leadership consultancy has revealed.

Hundreds of millions of pounds is spent each year by organisations on areas such as change management, talent management, recruitment and leadership development.

But rather than allocating budgets in a piece-meal way, First100 says the most successful and dynamic businesses are now looking for a more holistic approach:

“Rather than spending on different components such as change management or leadership development, organisations now talk about the importance of performance acceleration with speed and a clear return on investment being their most urgent requirements,” says Fiona Rawlinson, Managing Director of First100

“The world’s financial crisis has focussed the mind of business leaders on achieving the best possible results as quickly as possible.

“Senior business leaders and their teams literally have 100 days to prove themselves before shareholders, investors and other stakeholders start to ask questions. Speed is the new competitive weapon.”

Organisations including BT, Vodafone, John West Foods and Accenture are among those to have embraced the growing phenomenon of “performance acceleration” into their cultures.

Rawlinson added: “We are finding more and more businesses want to talk about performance acceleration and are now incorporating the terminology into their day to day business lives.

“Change management, leadership development, team development and on-boarding are the terminology of old business, while performance acceleration reflects the greater levels of urgency in today’s commercial and corporate world.

“In order to survive and prosper in today’s much changed financial environment, newly appointed business leaders and their teams have to hit the ground running fast and be able to show tangible results within a matter of weeks.
“In order to achieve performance acceleration, leaders and teams have to put in place their own first 100 day plans which provides them with a clear route map.”

Rawlinson, who splits her time between London and New York, said that although the world was still facing serious financial issues, ambitious organisations were starting to invest in their senior people again.

She added: “There has been a definite realisation in the past six to nine months that treading water is no longer an option. If organisations are to move forward and prosper in the changed business landscape, they need to value and invest in their best people.

“Organisations will spend on performance acceleration programmes for their best people, but equally they are looking for quick returns having made that investment. The days when a business leader or management team could spend a year or more getting comfortable in their new roles have long gone.

“Forget years, forget months, today’s dynamic and ambitious businesses are looking for performance acceleration within a matter of weeks.”

First 100 offers an enterprise-wide solution working at all levels of an organisation from Manager through to CEO. The company works across four core areas — helping to get people promoted; working with people in their first 100 days of a new appointment; empowering maternity returners; and working with a new leader’s team or leader’s new team.

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