A Highly Conservative and Plodding Corporate Culture Places a Drag on Speed

This is one of the toughest barriers to speed. Yet it is one that managers must face. If the culture is out of sync with the competitive environment, and if managers are not in a position to change the culture, they must adapt plans to the existing culture with the aim of moving as rapidly as possible.

At Royal Dutch Shell a sluggish culture existed at one time due to the joint British and Dutch management structure, which plodded along with two chairmen and two executive committees. It finally took the courage of a new CEO to streamline the organization. One immediate priority was to speed up the overly analytical culture, which made it difficult for the company to land big deals in a timely fashion.

Lack of Urgency in Developing New Products to Deal with Short Product Life cycles

It is no secret that products exist in a short time frame and in a commercial world that clamors for faster/cheaper/smaller. Where that basic knowledge is not fully internalized by management or acted upon quickly, results can be calamitous.

The life cycle issue has gained so much importance that software developers such as USG, SAP, and Dassault Systems sell product life cycle management (PLM) software. It is a fast-growing segment of the corporate software market and growing faster than other segments.

PLM software allows people to coordinate their work within a specified stage of the product life cycle, whether they are in London, New York, or Shanghai. The system permits individuals to post ideas for new products so that engineers get to work designing three-dimensional prototypes and manufacturers can lay out a new assembly line, complete with every piece of equipment necessary. With virtually no limitations, thousands of people can participate on a single project from wherever there is a Web connection.

When the enemy gives you an opening be swift as a hare and he will be unable to withstand you.

Sun Tzu

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