If you don’t have two key elements in place your business won’t be around for long.
Success or failure in business today depends on how quickly you can move from an idea to something the consumer can experience.
The days of long market research projects and lengthy development times are long gone. Agility is key and there are two critical factors you have to have in place in order to ensure your business is still here in a year’s time.
ONE: Agile Processes and Technology
If I had a dollar for every time one of our team would complain about the production management software we use or the process for taking a project from start to finish, I’d be a millionaire. I’ve spent countless hours reviewing operational systems with our Ops and Technology Directors and we talk about how we should or shouldn’t use agile scrums or waterfall or whatever. Or we talk about how Slack or the next big thing is the answer to all our prayers. The problem is we look at the problem from the wrong perspective. We focus on technology and processes that will solve the problem, rather than technology or processes that can adapt to solve the problems we don’t yet know about.
Most companies are stuck with legacy technology or systems that were put in place before the need for our businesses to be more agile.
We put briefs together for the creative, development or operational teams and they then conceptualise and build them for us. But what gets built is what is needed at that moment, not necessarily what is needed at the time of the completion of the build, or certainly not what is needed in a year or two down the line.
So we end up not happy with the tool we have created and start to blame the different teams for why it doesn’t work. Devs for not building it right, finance for agreeing to spend money on a white elephant, operations for missing a step in the process or creative for not thinking outside the box enough.
It’s absolutely critical that with any technical solution or operational process you consider going forward, that you treat how agile it will be as a key factor. So when you replace these old solutions with new tools or create solutions around the old technology, ensure it is a solution that is agile enough to meet the demands your ever-changing business now requires in order to survive and thrive.
TWO: The Speed of Decision Making
If you are slow and wrong you are in trouble. If you are fast and wrong, but agile, you’ll sense what you are doing wrong and shift.
If I think about how my business partners (Fred and Louis) and I used to make decisions, I start to break out in cold sweats. We would gather in a room and thrash it out until we got tired of debating, at which point one of us would leave through exhaustion, only to return to the same debate a day or week later. Decision by committee. It was only when I read that Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt used to do the same thing at Google that I didn’t feel too bad. They, like us, had to change their approach.
Another example: How often do you come up with an idea that then takes forever to cut through the red tape of bureaucracy within your organisation. Or start a project that you soon realise is not going to achieve the results you desire but carry on regardless because you have the budget for it and you know you won’t get a chance to spend that money elsewhere.
You need to be agile in your strategy and be prepared to shift quickly. Too often we get stuck on the original idea, start the development or change required, only to stick to the original script because we are nervous about turning the boat around. In today’s workplace that no longer works. You need to be prepared to shift your strategy many time in order to find your way to success.
To do that you have to come up with faster ways for making decisions.
So remember “Success or failure in business today will depend on how quickly you can move from an idea to something the consumer can experience”. If you wait too long to make your decisions, or if you lack the ability to quickly change your work in progress, you are dead in the water.
Mike Perk is Managing Director of WWC and a founding partner in Heavy Chef, an inspiration platform for innovators and leaders. He focuses his time on helping Digital Transformation through Digital Product Innovation and Change Management through coaching, facilitator & doing.