Speed is Powerful. Believe it!
by J Allen | Updated May 1, 2018 | Originally Published Dec 14, 2016
Empower Your Team to Make Real Change, Get Work Done and Get Results – FAST!
If the thought of a lasting energy boost, aggressive bias for action, and quick decision making to benefit customers is too uncomfortable, then stop reading now!
When we discuss market conditions with leaders we ask questions: “Where is it tough?” “Why is it different now?” “What is the new definition of high performance?” “How is the competition doing ‘high performance’ better than you?” “What are the new customer expectations in your world?” “What is getting in the way of competing better?” Their answers have a few common themes. One is speed; getting after what needs to be done, how to swiftly respond. Another is anticipation; quickly understanding customers emerging needs. Another is leadership, as in creating the need with customers. The bottom line… their organizations need to capitalize on their customer connections and knowledge, and they should do it NOW! Get more things done, faster and better!
Is Your Team Ready?
If you are feeling like your energy is getting pulled into a vacuum in executive meetings and the boardroom, then you really should read the rest of this article. We know what it’s like – instead of feeling energized about leading your team, you feel like you spend your days pulling or pushing them towards action. Do you see them, not as dynamic leaders, but as highly compensated “overseers” who are skilled at protecting the current situation? Do they talk about thought leadership and building consensus as positive traits, but do not back that up by positively surprising your customers and anticipating their needs? Do they not get the results you need in the time required to be high performing or highly competitive?
Does it matter whether you incent or threaten, cajole or reward, do you get the same effect? Is progress slow? Is there a lack of urgency with your team, with few noticeable, timely results…all the way through an “under-engaged” organization? Do you worry your customers are starting to see it and expect the team to achieve more? If you just had a way to create a spark, a way to get movement, a way to free your team from the bounds of living in the status quo – you know your team could reach their potential. You’ve tried everything and progress is just too sluggish!
See a New 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 when they talk about their business, employees and customers. They’ve shifted from revised plans…to action, from negative…to positive, from pessimist…to hopeful…to enthusiastic. Instead of talking about us they talk about market ideas, instead of discussing my problems they highlight our opportunities. Leaders spend time with different people, doing different things. Meetings are about the great progress they’ve made rather than the reasons why they are stuck. Instead of throwing up roadblocks to progress, they start tearing them down. They talk about stretching and learning and development – 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. For 30 years, Masters Alliance has worked with clients around the world to change the way they think about progress, 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. It’s designed to break the comfortable habits of all levels of the organization, with the net result of getting things done faster, more efficiently with better results.
How Does it Work?
Key is to think about getting results in a finite period – 100 days to be exact! With three distinct phases to this methodology – teams focus on getting down to business immediately, instead of a slow ramp up. Once customer, competitive, market opportunity or issue has been identified, we help leaders recruit right people to engage and then ask them to step aside and trust the teams to do the work. We help the teams get oriented to the new way of thinking, encourage them to disrupt their current mindset and get creative about solving old problems quickly and moving on new opportunities in new ways.
While Fast Start/Fast FinishSM methodology is a flexible frame, it’s rigid enough to ensure decisions are made and acted upon. We discourage work that doesn’t add to the end result, and help coach team leaders on how to identify it when it arises. We use the “Right vs. Perfect” mindset to encourage teams to move quickly towards progress, and back it up 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 of focusing on customers, competitors, market opportunities, supplier engagement and executive involvement. The “secret sauce” is in short time frame to results, somewhat structured process, executive reviews, specific team roles and accountabilities. Speed of anticipated results is an attraction for even busiest of your employees to want to volunteer. 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.
The Fast Start/Fast FinishSM methodology stresses the importance of finishing on time. There’s no time to waste, as with each new phase comes an expectation of findings, decisions and action. It’s truly an accelerated process – time waits for no-one in this model. We find this breaks habit of delaying for “everyone to be in the room.” We’ve been able to demonstrate that if you have a highly-engaged team, where trust runs rampant, decisions can be made without a quorum. Team members thrive on this new mindset and you’ll see them adopting this 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.
An Unstoppable Force
In fact, we worked with one organization that was in the middle of a series of Fast Start/Fast FinishSM efforts when they were acquired by another company. Even after being told to cease and desist activities on these initiatives, the team leaders took their Fast Start/Fast FinishSM 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 a “hidden” unused room behind the mail room as their meeting “war room,” the teams posted initiatives, responsibilities, progress 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.
Leading and Cross-Functional Engagement…Another View
The impact of bringing together people that may not have worked together in past – it is impressive to see people engage and learn about other functional areas as they work together to move quickly on customer and market opportunities or issues. It is revealing to see how some on a high-potential employee list 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 real actions from “presumably” rigorous competitors to enhance greater good in healthcare situations. At first participants were reluctant, overly cautious and pessimistic. They had not seen such suggested progress at accelerated speed before. It is working and the beat continues.
If the idea of a team going underground, or a collaboration with a competitor in the spirit of the common good scare you – then perhaps you aren’t ready for this kind of change, or you aren’t looking for your leadership team to have a bias towards action – leading to positive customer and market impact. If you’re truly ready to see a difference in your organization – from the executive suite to the customer service floor- let’s continue the conversation.
What You Can Do…
Even if breaking the rules, jumping into action, sending a new signal for urgency is too bothersome or too tough to sell to your peers – this model could still be right for you. The process effectively persuades expanded cooperation…when you are ready to provide the leadership. If you are ready to step things up, get new energy and transform your organization, let’s discuss.
We can talk about case studies from clients who have seen results like breaking into a channel two years earlier than planned, or taking out 30% of cost per unit, or being recognized as #1 supplier by their largest customer. These clients have also reported that the introduction of Fast Start/Fast FinishSM was revolutionary – changing their culture from the inside out. If those kinds of results give you energy and optimism for your leadership team – let’s talk about how to make it happen for your company.
Preparing for a ‘Speed is Powerful: Discussion
- What would be the difference if specific, customer-influencing, market-impacting efforts could be successfully accomplished in only 10-20% of the “normal” time?
- What difference would this make with the energy, morale and commitment of your organization’s associates?
- Think about what would be different today if you had decided to use this unique methodology several months ago – and had already seen results?
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.