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Speed is Powerful! Get to the Future on Time!
by J Allen | Updated 2022 | Originally Published Dec 14, 2016
See Opportunities, Take Action!
Make real change and get results—fast! If the thought of a lasting energy boost, aggressive bias for action, and quick decision-making ability to benefit customers is too uncomfortable, then read on.
When we discuss market conditions with leaders, we ask questions to find out what is really going on.
“What are the new customer expectations in your world?”
“Why is it different now?”
“What is the new definition of high performance?”
“Where is it tough?”
“What is the competition doing better than you?”
“What is getting in the way of really competing?”
Their answers illustrate a few common gaps:
- Anticipation—quickly understanding customers’ emerging needs
- Leadership—creating the need with customers; actually stimulating demand (causing customers to reach out, to want something offered)
- Speed—swiftly responding to what needs to be done
What’s the bottom line? Organizations need to capitalize on their customer connections and knowledge, and they should do it now! See sooner, act quicker, and get things done—faster and better!
Is Your Team Ready?
These changes require energy and enthusiasm. Is your team up for the job? If you feel like your energy is getting pulled into a vacuum during executive meetings and in the boardroom, we know what it’s like. Instead of feeling energized about leading your team, you feel like you’re spending your days pulling or pushing them toward action. Here are some other signs your team needs a jump start:
- You see your team members as highly compensated overseers skilled at protecting the status quo.
- Your team talks about thought leadership…but it doesn’t surprise customers or anticipate their needs.
- Your team members do not get the results you need in the time required to be high-performing or highly competitive.
- Whether you incent or threaten, cajole or reward, you get the same effect.
- Progress is slow.
- There is a lack of new-market-reflecting urgency on your team, extending through an underengaged organization.
- You worry your customers are starting to see less innovation, responsiveness, and competitive fire. They may even expect less of your company.
If only you had a way to create a spark, a way to get movement, a way to free your team from the incremental bounds of the incremental status quo—to really reach their potential. You’ve tried everything, and progress is just too sluggish!
See the Future
Imagine a day when you see the change you are looking for in your team. You notice a difference in the words they use to talk about their business, employees, and customers. They’ve shifted from plan revisions to action…from negativity to positivity…from pessimistic to hopeful…to enthusiastic. Instead of talking about “us,” they talk about “market ideas.” Instead of discussing “our problems,” they highlight “our opportunities.”
Leaders begin spending more time with different people, doing different things. Their meetings are about great customer responses and attitudes rather than reasons why they are stuck. Instead of throwing up roadblocks to action, they start tearing them down. They talk about stretching and learning and achieving—not as a chore but as a new way to get work done. Your employees talk about the change. Your customers feel a difference.
It feels like a dream, doesn’t it? It can be your new reality. Let’s discuss two proven concepts to verify that a new reality is definitely within reach.
Double Half-Life Speed to Innovation
The concept of thinking about the ideal, the best possible out- come, the most remarkable breakthrough—even Jim Collins’ BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)—doesn’t come close to the power of Double Half-Life. Double Half-Life changes everything. It appears to be impossible, laughable, even stupid, thinking.
What is it? It’s taking any situation down to the basics of innovation in half the time and then halving that—requiring no more than a quarter of the time considered normal to create new concepts, get things invented. And there’s a kicker. Double Half-Life achieves results seldom, if ever, seen before in product—or service-offering transformation:
- environmental impact
- energy usage
- installation time
- maintenance requirement
Yet twice the…
You get the point. It is completely new thinking. Combine the power of childlike wonder, an attitude of Double Half-Life, and an intense connection with customers and customer’s customers…and viable strategic product and service ideas seem to appear on whiteboards. Without these ingredients, guessing is just too much work with no breakthrough results.
Use your experience, instincts, and informed analytics to guide decisions on the most viable opportunities—after, not before, boisterous Double Half-Life discussions!
Speed of Execution
The evidence is clear. We have worked with clients around the world to change the way they think about speed of work and execution. The shift comes from using a proven methodology that focuses teams on accelerated action. We call it Fast Start/ Fast FinishSM. During our work with Microsoft in Europe, they called it Fast TrackSM. Using this methodology, they…
- reduced the average sales cycle of a major product/ service from five months to two.
- reduced tech support’s average call center waiting and transfer time from three-plus minutes to thirty seconds (despite a dramatic demand increase and only a 5 percent personnel increase).
- streamlined distribution by simplifying update procedures for customers from twenty-one options to three.
- improved revenue and market share.
The methodology is designed to break comfortable habits at all levels of the organization for a net result of getting things done faster, more efficiently, and with better results.
The key is to think about getting results in a finite period—one hundred days to be exact! Over three distinct phases, teams focus on getting down to business immediately instead of ramping up slowly. Once a customer, competitive, or market opportunity/issue has been identified, leaders recruit the right people and then step aside, trusting the teams to do the work. As the teams get oriented to this new way of thinking, they are encouraged to disrupt their current mindset, solve old problems quickly and creatively, and move on to new opportunities in new ways.
While the methodology has a flexible framework, it’s rigid enough to ensure decisions are made and acted upon. Teams identify and discourage work that doesn’t add to a positive end result. A “right-versus-perfect” mindset encourages teams to move quickly toward progress. This is reinforced with an empowerment model that places trust in the hands of those who work closest with the customer.
The foundation of the methodology is speed and focus on customers, competitors, market opportunities, supplier engagement, and executive involvement. The fundamentals of its success are the short time frame to gain results, some- what structured process, executive reviews, and specific team roles and accountabilities.
Speed of anticipated results is such an attraction that even the busiest of employees want to volunteer to participate in acceleration teams. Best performers always want to move faster than culture allows. Many others have a strong desire to make something happen, to be somehow significant, but have been discouraged from doing so too many times.
There is no compromise to finishing on time. There’s no time to waste; there is an expectation of findings, decisions, and action. It’s truly an accelerated process—time waits for no one in this hundred-day get-it-done model. We find this breaks the habit of delaying for “everyone to be in the room.” If you have highly engaged teams, where trust runs rampant, decisions can be made without a quorum. Team members thrive on this new mindset, and you’ll see them adopting the behavior to other work efforts. Leaders start seeing a change in their organization, a new culture forming—an unstoppable force in employee development and engagement.
The Process Becomes an Unstoppable Force
One organization was in the middle of a series of Fast Start/ Fast FinishSM efforts when they were acquired by another company. After the acquiring company told them to cease and desist activities on these initiatives, the team leaders took their teams underground…using the new methodology to get results absent the blessing of their new senior leadership team. They were unwilling to revert to old habits because of the results they’d seen with this new way of getting work done.
Using an unused room hidden behind the mailroom as their war room, the teams posted initiatives, responsibilities, and prog- ress reports, and held individual team status meetings. They successfully completed their customer-impacting initiatives and were recognized for their ability to achieve results in the midst of a relatively toxic acquisition environment. And they all survived the comprehensive leadership changes.
Does the idea of a team going underground or a collaboration with a competitor in the spirit of the common good scare you? If so, then perhaps you aren’t ready for this kind of change. Maybe you aren’t looking for your leadership team to have a bias toward action, leading to positive customer and market impact.
If you’re truly ready to see a difference in your organization—from the C-suite to the customer service floor—let’s continue the conversation.
Leading and Cross-Functional Engagement—Another View
Another successful fundamental is the impact of bringing together people who may not have worked together in the past. It’s energizing to see people engage and learn about other functional areas as they work together to move quickly on customer and market opportunities/issues. It’s also revealing to see how those on high-potential employee lists engage, lead, and perform.
It is even more startling to see external cross-industry participants in market-changing efforts! In a recent effort, we are seeing breakthrough conversations, candor, and actions from presumably rigorous competitors to serve the greater good in health-care situations. At first, participants were reluctant, overly cautious, and pessimistic. They had never seen such progress at an accelerated speed. It worked so well the success was featured in a customer’s press release and confirmed by an industry association’s quantitative impact assessment!
What You Can Do…
Even if breaking the rules, jumping into action, and sending a new signal for urgency is too bothersome or tough to sell to your peers, this model of extraordinary implementation speed could still be right for you. Fast results effectively persuade expanded cooperation. You just need to provide the leadership, step things up, and transform your organization with new energy.
Think about our other clients’ results, such as breaking into their new channel two years earlier than planned, or reducing their unit cost by 30 percent, or being recognized as the number one supplier by their largest customer. These organizations have reported that the speed to achievement approach was revolutionary, changing their culture from the inside out. Help your team think and lead differently—implement this new way of thinking in your organization. Achieving significant performance gains from a breakthrough understanding of customers, clients, and markets is contagious and extremely attractive to others.
Catch customers’ attention with unusual quickness. Help them see a difference and believe there is something cookin’ in your organization. Do it now!
We Can Help
Masters Alliance can help bring these tips to life with your organization – we provide tools and framework to help your team think and lead differently. We’ve helped dozens of our clients implement this new way of thinking in their organizations.
Masters Alliance is a 30-year strategic management consulting firm that has helped more than 120 client organizations in over 20 industries in 13 countries gain a competitive advantage in their market. We help organizations develop and implement unique business strategies that work – faster than our clients ever thought possible.
We help clients achieve significant performance gains from a breakthrough understanding of their customers, clients, and markets.