Leading in today’s organizations is a complicated, often frustrating experience.
I talk daily with individuals operating in the middle of their organizations and with those occupying the upper layers of power and decision-making authority. The pressures they describe are palpable. Everything is a bit more complicated, from conflicting priorities to navigating the harsh external environment to trying to do things that used to seem routinely easy, such as working together with team members.
And then, there’s the issue of speed.
The Need for Speed
It’s not just lip service. There’s genuine pressure for organizations to adapt quickly to changing customer, industry, and competitive conditions.
From consultant and author Ram Charan in his recent book, Rethinking Competitive Advantage—New Rules for the Digital Age: “By far the biggest difference in creating competitive advantage before and after the digital age is the speed of competitive action and reaction.”
“They Talk About Moving Faster, But It Feels Like I’m Running Through a Vat of Oatmeal”
There’s pressure for everything to move faster at a time when it feels like we’re all trying to run through water or worse. One client offered to me, “I show up prepared to sprint every day and spend most of my time feeling like I’m running through a vat of thick oatmeal.”
As I listen to individuals describing their daily challenges, most of the energy they and their team members expend focuses on accommodating outdated management and operating practices that were barely acceptable in our slower world.
- How many status meetings will you attend this week that aren’t necessary?
- How much time will you and your colleagues spend creating slides for the monthly or quarterly business reviews?
- How much time do you spend generating reports in environments swimming in data but seeming to lack usable information?
- How much time will you spend on your professional development this week? Theirs?
- How easily do you and your team members connect your priorities to your organization’s strategy and significant goals?
Eight Questions to Jump-Start Moving Faster
Since most of us aren’t at the top of our organizations, we have to promote the right changes where we stand.
Start asking yourself and your team members:
- Where can I/we reduce the energy and effort black holes that keep us from our mission?
- What meetings, reports, interactions can I eliminate to reduce the burden on the group members?
- What do I have to do to help them grow their confidence in their work?
- Am I part of the problem? If yes, where do I need to change? (Ask them.)
- What does it look like for us to move fast? How will we learn, adapt, and improve?
- What do we need from our management team to improve our context for our work and reduce organizational friction?
- How do we better align our work with the organizational execution around strategy?
- How do we keep from erring on the side of all activity, no vector in our drive to increase our speed?
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Strive to help your group become the model for smarter, better, faster in your organization. You might trigger a movement that changes the entire organization in the right ways.