By Robert Craven, Managing Director of The Directors Centre
The 'elephant in the room', the subject that most businesses fail to address head-on, is speed. Speed, actually, is just about the only thing that really matters.
- Speed of response
- Speed of decision-making
- Speed of action
- Speed of getting back to people
- Speed of getting feedback
- Speed of creating subtle changes or modifying your action or responding to the environment
- Speed of changing direction
It is just all about speed.
Remember, no speed = inertia = death.
So, what are you going to do about it? (And can you make these decisions right now, please!).
1. Quicker steps. Decide to move much faster. Every part of your body/business... Create momentum; destroy inertia. Create an excitement and a buzz around what you do and how quickly you get things done. (Not just you but also in your business.)
2. Bigger steps. Decide to move further when you do move with each step. Take bigger, more daring steps.
3. Deal with the under-performing customers, the ones who don't get how you work best. Try to fix them, and if you can't fix them then sack them. But do it all now. Don't wait.
4. Deal with the under-performing products and services, the ones you never should have taken on. Try to fix them, and if you can't fix them then sack them. But do it all now. Don't wait.
5. Deal with the under-performing suppliers, the ones who aren't giving you the quality of product/service that you had expected. Try to fix them, and if you can't fix them then sack them. But do it all now. Don't wait.
6. Deal with the under-performing staff. Try to fix them, and if you can't fix them then sack them (ideally you do this legally). But do it all now. Don't wait.
The problem with under-performers is not that they under-perform. No, their under-performance is simply a result of you allowing them to under-perform. You not being clear about what you expect or you not telling them when you feel disappointed or you not telling them when they've done well. They under-perform because you have let them. Stop that right away.
7. Try stuff faster. And fail faster. And learn faster. And pick yourself up again faster.
8. Employ people who move/decide/act quickly.
9. Run a team that has at its heart the belief that it must move/decide/act quickly.
10. Create space to design and develop clarity, direction and purpose so that you can move even faster.
11. Mix with fast people, people who make things happen. People with experience.
12. Create simple/fast/effective controls and systems in your business. Measures that are relevant. Dashboards that are easy to create and even easier to read and respond to.
13. Enable everyone in your business to think the unthinkable and say the unsayable.
14. Find ways to create prototypes that are good enough so that you can get feedback from the market. Do try to create the perfect solution. You must deliver, deliver, deliver and deliver.
15. Lead from the front. Show your team, your customers and your competitors exactly what you mean by 'speed'.
The impact of all this speed is immense. You see results quicker, you get more response. You have something to work with, you come alive. You become a magnet for others looking for the leadership and direction that your speed creates.
The speed helps you become bolder to take bigger, bolder steps: better or more expensive products that offer more, to more people, faster.
BUT BEWARE you don’t confuse speed with wheel spin. You must create business, not just activity; sales, not just conversations. Measure and test and use a simple yet powerful and effective time management system to make sure you are being as effective as possible. Don’t assume that fast always equals good.
What I am proposing here will not make things easier at first.
Doing more things more quickly, things will get messy. Very messy. And, I might say, you have to do more things at the same time. You cannot grow a business one-project-at-a-time. Sequential planning may work in the multi-national... it may look pretty on a GANT Chart but in a growing entrepreneurial business you neither want nor can you afford such an unnecessary luxury.
Rigid adherence to 'the plan' signals the death knell of the growing business. Accept that you need to do things fast and as a consequence a lot will happen at the same time. Do things simultaneously and not just sequentially.
All those posters were right when I was a child. They said "Speed kills..." It does kill, it kills your competition!