With today's breakneck pace of digital evolution, customer expectations are rising continuously. While others talk about the importance of exceeding customer expectations, I claim that few companies even meet the most basic expectations of their customers. 

If you are working for one of the old giants from the past century, you are probably stressed out by the rigorous processes originating from ancient corporate culture. Don't worry; your feelings are justified. Due to the intensified globalisation, customers suddenly have a vast variety of options. Meanwhile, your business model is being copied, launched and marketed at an unpredictable pace.

Most organisations are not evolving with their customers, and the number one reason is the complexity of managing speed. In today’s business environment, how swiftly your company can adapt to rapidly changing market conditions is more critical than ever before—ultimately it will determine the chances of future success or failure.

The rise of new competitors from all over the world, makes many organisations gather around the perception that: if we fall behind, sales will decline and someone else will replace us. There is a growing fear of missing out on the next thing, which unfortunately forces many organisations to hurry.

Why many companies end up in a hurry

As a natural consequence of quarterly economics, an overwhelming percentage of the top management has been focusing on short-term objectives. Board members, owners and managers are prioritising short-term activities over long-term activities to satisfy shareholders. Outdated incentives are designed to reward employees for making the company relevant today instead of making sure it is still relevant tomorrow.

As managers want to achieve positive results on a quarterly basis, there is seldom time to get involved in projects which will generate returns after three years. Whether it is the implementation of a new CRM-system, a marketing strategy or new product development, these endeavours will usually be delegated to a smaller team with limited authority to make long-term decisions.

When I meet with board members, owners and senior managers today, I am increasingly getting worried by the sheer number of them not directly involved in business-critical projects. Many projects are dependent on organisational decisions. Without the involvement of top management, these projects are very likely to be delayed and eventually fail. No matter what, these companies will find it challenging to remain relevant tomorrow.

Be fast and stay fast

To me, it has become clear that due to old organisational cultures and short-term thinking, many companies are not prepared to handle the speed of change properly. If you want to ensure that the organisation stays relevant tomorrow, your company needs to become fast today.

A fast company incorporate speed in its DNA. It allows decision-makers to respond quickly to ongoing projects without implementation of methodologies like waterfall or agile. Efficiency is merely a natural part of a fast company as it evolves at the same pace as their customers.

How to stay fast

There is a critical time right now when companies can decide whether it should be fast or soon be in a hurry. Let's look at what distinguishes a fast company from the rest.

They measure customer satisfaction

Many companies say they are customer-centric, but only a few are genuinely measuring customer satisfaction. Of course, customers no longer respond to lengthy questionnaires. However, a fast company knows the importance of customer’s satisfaction, and they continuously ask a straightforward question: Would you recommend us to a colleague or a friend? When someone answers no, a fast company finds out why and work on a solution.

 They have long-term incentives

Most critical projects that will make a business succeed in the future do not yield returns within a quarter. A fast company are aware of the importance of long-term value creation and reward employees accordingly.

 Their top management is involved in critical projects

Since managers are not only rewarded for keeping the company relevant today, they have a strong commitment to future projects. They set up clear ownership and make sure everyone knows which project he or she are involved in.

 They prioritise projects

During top management meetings, they go through the various projects that are in progress and make a clear priority list. They ensure that the projects get the resources they need and keeps up with the time plan.

Do your company run the risk of getting in a hurry?


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Anders Björklund

Founder, CEO & Strategist zooma.
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