OBSTACLES TO SPEED

Admittedly, there are stumbling blocks to employing a “rapid and audacious attack.” Some are real, others perceived, and any could discourage managers from acting with any measure of bravado. Regardless of source,

Improve Chances for Securing a Competitive Lead: Act with Speed • 29

TABLE 2.1

Guidelines for Utilizing Speed

Responding rapidly to a competitor’s aggressive actions reduces potential losses and helps regain momentum.

Drawn-out efforts divert interest, diminish enthusiasm, and depress morale.

Speed is a contributing factor in preventing a product from becoming a commodity.

Speed is a catalyst for growth.

Speed does not mean carelessness, recklessness, or shoot-from-the-hip reactions.

It requires preplanning, excellent internal communications, and rapid implementation of strategies.

Despite the inevitable uncertainties of market behavior, speed is the prudent approach to prevent the negative outcomes of procrastination.

Discipline, capability, and skill form the underpinnings of speed.

Indispensable to speed and success is an organizational culture that is totally customer driven.

they do become genuine obstacles to speed. For example, consider the following (mostly legitimate) reasons:

  • • Lack of reliable market intelligence
  • • Mediocre leadership that stifles timely and significant progress
  • • A manager’s low self-esteem and indecisiveness as deep-rooted personality traits
  • • Lack of courage to go on the offensive, triggered by a manager’s innate fear of failure
  • • No trust by managers in their employees’ discipline, capabilities, or skills—with a resulting loss of confidence about how they will react in a tough competitive situation
  • • No trust by employees in their managers’ ability to make correct decisions
  • • Inadequate support from senior management
  • • Disagreement and open confrontations among line managers about objectives, priorities, and strategies

A highly conservative and plodding corporate culture that places a drag on speed

  • • Lack of urgency in developing new products to deal with short product life cycles (see the SanDisk example above)
  • • Organizational layers, long chains of command, and cumbersome committees that prolong deliberation and foster procrastination
  • • Aggressive competitors that cause fear among employees, damage morale, and result in lost momentum
  • • Complacency or arrogance as a prevailing mind-set

The above list reflects serious stumbling blocks to speed. Any of them can solidify as rock-hard deterrents to moving forward and executing a business plan with any reasonable chance of success.

At this point, it should be strongly emphasized that speed in no way means carelessness, recklessness, or shoot-from-the-hip reactions. Good estimates, reliable intelligence, and prudent planning are all required procedures. Once completed, however, speed is your ally to implementation.

When you see the correct course, act; do not wait for orders.

Sun Tzu

We now examine the obstacles in more detail for clues so you can “see the correct course [and] act.”

 
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