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This week’s focus: A couple of weeks ago I spent a day with the top 150 managers of a major US business. Together, we were identifying ways in which the company could increase its speed and agility.

As I prepared for the session, I realized that there are four key characteristics that set aside those companies that I’ve worked with that are genuinely fast-paced from those that are more sluggish.

These characteristics create an organizational DNA that run through every element of high-speed companies, and are:

  • Focus – fast companies realise that ‘you can’t spray and sprint’ and spend real time identifying and committing to clear priorities.
  • Action-bias – fast companies don’t try to gold-plate solutions, and obsess about planning for planning’s sake, but seek to learn and grow through rapid action.
  • Simplicity – fast companies know that complexity is the enemy of pace, and establish simple rules for their people to get things done.
  • Top-Team Together – fast companies know that, in the end, pace is a leadership issue. All the top team must therefore exemplify the behaviours they want from their people – in terms of decision-making, moving to action and keeping things simple and focused.

These four characteristics – Focus, Action-bias, Simplicity and Top-team together – create the acronym FAST. I believe that they are easy to both understand and apply, with no special knowledge or capability required.

In other words, any company can become a FAST company. So come on, what are you waiting for?

Off the record: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car

Is it fast enough so we can fly away?

We’ve got to make a decision

Leave tonight

Or live and die this way

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.