SPEED – Waiting for Joe I
Since 2010, in a research conducted by the Economist together with researchers Jocelyn Davis and Tom Atkinson (HBR-05.2010) on 343 different businesses, a clear trend emerged among companies that, during a period of strong development, slowed down their pace in order to reflect on whether they were on the right path and then speeded up again. This type of companies averaged 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period, compared to businesses that were involved in a costant speed of action in order to maximize efficiency.
The comment of the research was likewise clear and precise: firms sometimes confuse operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value).
In essence, companies that gain excellent results thanks to strategical speed leverage over several organizational behaviours, such as:
Openness to ideas and discussions vs difficult conditions for individual/groups collaboration
Encouragement of innovative thinking vs exclusive use of proven methods
Attention to innovation and learning vs obsessive orientation to operational alignment
Zenger Folkman too have wondered whether it is actually possible to combine speed of action and high quality decisions.
Thanks to their analysis, conducted on more than 75.000 leaders worldwide, they identified leaders who are excellent on both aspects and listed the behaviours through which individuals can reach this excellence.
Among these behiaviours, it is possible to identify, for instance, Innovation. People with fast execution and high quality were always looking for a fresher, faster, more efficient way to deliver; using standard procedures instead of new innovative methods doesn’t lead to the excellence duo (speed-quality).
Another distinctive aspect is to consider external perspectives. Leaders who were consumed with an internal focus on the organizational problems and concerns tended to miss big shifts in the environment and customer’s preferences. High speed & quality champions are “cross-eyed”: an eye looks inside the business, the other one looks to ever-changing external trends and mindsets.
STAY TUNED to get an insight into the other dictinctive behaviours discovered by Joe Folkman and Jack Zenger…