The foundation of business success is in creating value faster and smarter than the competition. Yet, the majority of strategic initiatives (approximately 70 percent) fail — even with streamlined processes, detailed plans and abundant resources. Even of the 30 percent of strategic initiatives that are successfully executed, most CEOs view the process as too slow. What’s going on? More importantly, how do you keep that from happening to your organization?
The issue of speed continues to register as important for many clients. In fact, according to AchieveForum research, 90 percent of top leaders indicate “Speed of execution is critical to our ability to sustain our business.”
Having a clear speed strategy is required in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA world) as the VUCA lens often causes indecision, slows down processes, and constrains clarity which really impacts strategic implementation (change, strategy or projects). Leaders need to correct this distortion through regularly reviewing clarity, unity, and agility. And, leaders should acknowledge when they don’t have a clear line of sight to the goal, but by working with their people to pay attention to these factors they can still achieve speed in a VUCA world.
Speed Challenges and Opportunities
Many of the clients we work with are being challenged by a range of speed issues:
Some are trying to innovate faster and be first to market with new ideas, services, and products. However many still are focused on pace and process and have not mastered the people factors: creating clarity, building unity, and fostering agility.
Clients voice the need to sustain or improve their business growth in an increasingly complex environment. Speed is a factor that links to the flow of value through your business. Some clients need to make changes to stay fit and competitive, and the speed of execution is as critical as the action you take to ensure that you minimise the lag between the change implementation and the business outcomes.
Markets are becoming more crowded and competition more fierce. A company’s response speed to changing market conditions and evolving customer needs becomes a real differentiator.
Clients are interested in exploring new and innovative sources of value – this is where the speed of finding, testing and exploiting new sources of value can help you move upstream with your customers and build stronger relationships.
Sales cycles continue to get longer, have more stakeholders and be more process orientated. A company’s ability to optimize speed whilst developing effective client relationships can make a real difference to their sales team’s performance. In the VUCA world as processes slow down and become more complex, some clients shift towards building stronger relationships and moving upstream with customers to help them navigate and plan together. Becoming more flexible and proactive around customer needs by cultivating the experience of both organisations is a real competitive advantage.
Many of our clients are actually driven towards speed by the needs of their own customers and stakeholders who are looking to differentiate what they can do. Speed has now become a recognized differentiator in all sectors.
Speed also links to a client’s ability to learn and scale. Some clients are starting to have speed discussions early in the process for launching strategic projects to ensure they create clarity with all stakeholders, build unity around the clarity the have developed, and foster agility through cultivating the experience of all their people. They are also tracking their speed through gathering feedback on the people factors throughout the implementation to ensure ‘no surprises’ and optimum speed.
How does your organization measure up to the speed challenge? Download the Strategic Speed whitepaper for a hands-on assessment and practical tips.