The 3 Drivers Of Strategic Speed

I’m constantly amazed by the difference in the speed and effectiveness at which different companies deliver their strategy and drive growth. Some of the difference relates to the lifestage of a business; start-ups are generally faster-moving than more mature organisations, for instance.

The vast majority of successful companies are, almost by definition, more likely to be ‘mature’, but you can find huge differences in speed within this group. Among my clients, for instance, is a company that has grown its share from 25% to over 33% over the past few years, while another has, over the past couple of years, struggled to make a real impact on a flat-lining sales line.

The chart, above, sets out three key drivers of speed, and I think that an understanding of these drivers can help business leaders understand the best way to drive the pace and success of their company.

Level 1: Environment

This level is all about setting the scene across a business. It’s about your expectations of the business and, more importantly, your own leadership behaviours. Do you tend to make decisions, or defer them, for example? Are your meetings long-winded and unfocused, or short, sharp and to the point? Do you move to action quickly, or prevaricate? These are the behaviours that your team and the wider organisation are watching and they set the standard for how others behave.

Your environment is also shaped by the clarity and focus of your strategy. All other things being equal, the greater the level of focus – in terms of goals and priorities – the quicker your people can move.

Critically, these environmental drivers do not require any structural or process changes. They deliver greater levels of speed and activity simply by making things clearer to your people.

Level 2: Organisation

This level is about clarity about who does what and how. It is about making sure you’re your managers’ roles, responsibilities and objectives are clear, and that they have sufficient elbow room to make decisions and make things happen. Similarly, it is focused on how customer feedback is incorporated into your daily operational activities and improvement programmes: the quicker and clearer the feedback loops are, the faster you will deliver the change you’re after.

Level 3: Delivery

This level focuses on how you do things. In particular, it addfresses how you plan, implement and manage change and your major strategic initiatives, both those that are internal (e.g. organisational improvements) and those that are external (e.g. NPD and innovation initiatves).

Managing at all three levels – Environment, Organisation and Delivery – can help you improve the pace of delivery of your strategy. But in my experience, the fastest companies have fully addressed Level 1 drivers, before focusing on Level 2 and Level 3. It can be tempting to simply implement a new Lean NPD process, for instance, but if you haven’t established the right environment and organisation, the impact of the new process will be limited.

At what level have you focused your efforts to accelerate the pace of strategy delivery in your organisation, and what further improvements could you deliver if you ensured that you had maximised your environmental and organisational drivers?

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.