• February 8, 2016

Need for Speed: Is Your Enterprise Tuned for Quick-Strike Execution?

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you aren’t moving fast enough,” says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Whatever the merits of this Zuckerberg maxim, one thing is certain: Speed is the new normal. To survive in this new business environment, the enterprise must create strategies fast, execute even faster, and readily adapt in quick strike execution processes.

Unfortunately, most organizations don’t operate with quick-strike execution and agility. Reasons vary. Maybe they’re bogged down by legacy systems and don’t have the resources to effectively transform. Perhaps they listen only selectively to market signals (those that play to organizational strengths) and fail to translate what they hear into clear strategic goals. They may think a perfect plan next week is better than a good plan now. These are danger zones.

Pedal to the Metal

Think of quick-strike execution as a tennis match in which you have to react fast and anticipate the angle, speed, and spin of the oncoming shot. What can enterprises do to up their game?

  • Scan the market continuously to anticipate shifts. Be aware of organizational blind spots that might block critical signals.
  • Assess which organizational habits hinder speed. How much time do your teams spend refining productivity systems and to-do lists? How many action plans emerge from meetings without completion dates?
  • Ask, “Why can’t this be done sooner?” Methodically posing this question habitually can have a profound impact on organizational speed.
  • Isolate and confront the complicating pieces of an initiative (such as legal and what top executives will think) immediately. Input from these complicating components at the start speeds up the whole process.
  • Automate any business process or function that can be automated.

Can You Move Too Fast?

Agility often means sensing when it’s smart to slow down. Complex decisions might require waiting for more information, especially if they can’t be easily reversed or could cause crippling damage. At other times, moving too fast can compromise your enterprise foundations—by burning through cash, for example. It’s good to be quick. It’s better to be speedy and sustainable.

After all, being fastest—and first—in everything you do has limits. The first commercially available MP3 players, the Eiger MPMan and the HanGo Personal Jukebox, came out in 1998 and 1999, respectively—about three years before Apple’s iPod went on to dominate the market. Remember Friendster? The first major social network, it debuted a year before MySpace and two years before Facebook. Some technologies and processes need time to mature.

A quick-strike execution culture means rapidly integrating new ideas and solutions into business strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment, move quickly, and learn by doing.

As you prioritize speed, accept that some decisions will be sub-optimal—and will even fail. To be successful, you must measure those failures and adapt. You can’t sell what you can’t improve, and you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Quick-strike cultures with room for experimentation and failure give rise to fortuitous accidents. And breed success.

Like this story? Read more about quick-strike speed here.