The need for speed is something that all CEOs need to keep at the forefront of their minds. In the world of athletics there is widely accepted principle that states: “Speed Kills.” In most sporting events speed will prevail over strength, and often times speed will end-up being the deciding factor between victory and defeat. As important as speed is on the field of play, it has been my experience that it is even more important in the world of business. While there is little debate that speed can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of speed can send a company (or an individuals career) into a death spiral. Agility, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment, and focus all lead to the creation of speed. In today’s blog post I’ll discuss why you should feel “The Need For Speed.”
General George S. Patton said it best: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” The pursuit of perfection is one of great adversaries of speed. In fact, at the risk of being controversial I’m going to take the position that perfection does not exist. I hate to break it to you, but those of you who regard yourselves as perfectionists simply exhibit perfectionistic tendencies in an unrealistic attempt to achieve what cannot be had. The pursuit of perfectionism does not result in an increase in quality, but it will result in time delays, cost overruns, missed deadlines and unkept commitments. I would suggest that rather than seeking what cannot in most cases ever be achieved that it makes more sense to seek the highest standard of quality that makes economic sense relative to the constraints of an ever shifting marketplace.
Time to face the facts…we live in a digital world where the speed of engagement, response, interaction, communication, delivery etc., was once a unique competitive value proposition, but is now a requirement for survival. There are those that would argue that speed in synonymous with undisciplined decisioning, but I would caution you against confusing speed with reckless abandon…I’m a big proponent of planning, assessment, analysis and strategy, but only if it is concluded in a timely fashion. ‘Analysis Paralysis’ leads to missed opportunities and failed initiatives. Speed is your friend…embrace it…leverage it…win with it.
Earlier in my career I served as Director of Internet Strategy for what was at that time the world’s largest web-enablement firm. While serving in that position I coined the term ‘e-velocity’ which we trademarked and used to describe the influence that technology was having on the pace at which business had to be conducted in order to remain competitive. It used to be acceptable to take 12 to 18 months to roll-out an initiative, but in today’s world you better be able to do it in 90 days or it will be obsolete before it gets to market.
When I first started in business it was usual and customary to produce 5 and 10 year business plans, but today I work off of rolling 90 day tactical business plans. The latest advances in Business Process Management (BPM) have seen a reduction in the planning and budgeting cycle from 120 and 90 days to 45 days. But, is 45 days good enough? How many days constitute a responsive cycle time? Many believe the right number is between 5 and 10 days. Why is cycle time reduction important? Because shorter planning and budgeting processes facilitate greater flexibility and responsiveness.
In today’s competitive business environment you must quickly be able to assess risk and make timely decisions. You cannot be successful being guided by fear and hesitation. When in doubt, remember that “Speed Kills” and that “he who hesitates is lost.”
Mike Myatt, is a Top CEO Coach, author of “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual“, and Managing Director of N2Growth.