Is Organizational Velocity the Ultimate Competitive advantage?

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I have noticed that all large organizations that fail, have one thing in common: They fail because they are not able to change how they run their business fast enough with the changing business environment.

Until last century, the change in the environment was slow and took a long time to take root – so, organizations had the crucial element of time on their side and could re-invent themselves to stay relevant or die a long & painful death.

The convergence of internet, mobile, and a change in the demographic of the consumer has meant that organizations today don’t have the luxury of time on their side.

In order to stay relevant, they need to learn to build velocity in all aspects of their business.

Build Velocity in developing new products or rethinking (or killing) products that are not being adopted; Velocity in their communications (both internal and external); Velocity in their sales and marketing process.

And most importantly, they need to build velocity in their ability to make & implement decisions.

Gone are the days when organizations could afford to let information flow from bottom to the top management and then wait for the top management to take decisions, which are then cascaded down to the execution layer of the organization.

Today, organizations need to be built or designed for velocity. Traditional structures will need to be re-invented and new organizational structures thought of.

Traditional pyramid structures need to be replaced with newer organizational structures. One such structure that i proposed in an blog post earlier is that of a concentric circles with the customer being at the center of the organization.

 

When you combine this new organization model and add the concept of “Commander’s Intent”, you get the foundations of a high velocity organization.

Commanders Intent is a single page document that is created in the military that lays down the primary intent of the military exercise so that even if there is one soldier standing, he knows what is expected out of him. The commander’s intent is the vision that the leader has for the organization and its journey in time.

When you have an empowered front line staff, energetic and supportive middle managers and a leader with a clear vision, you lay down the foundations for a high velocity organization.

I know that this is not easy to implement, but for some organizations, which are on the brink of extinction, this could be their last strike. For example, large brick and mortar retailers who are currently facing challenges of slowing business spurred by growing online commerce, could use this model to bring life back in their stores. The key is that, all the three components need to be there for this strategy to work – Commanders Intent, Empowered, Engaged & Involved front-line staff, supportive management structure.

Organizations that are able to put this in practice can build sustainable competitive advantage as they will not only respond to their changing environment much faster than their competitors and at the same time continue to move towards their vision. Also, the people who are responding to the changing environment are the people who actually understand this first hand and can also figure out what could be done to counter these changes in the business environment.

These are my thoughts. What do you think? How easy or difficult do you think implementing this new organization design is and if this will indeed provide velocity in decision-making?

Potential Mistake that Marketing Teams Should Avoid

Marketing Fail
Image Courtesy – Brrybnds.com

 

The biggest mistake that I have seen a lot of marketers starting to make is that they fall in the trap of following experts at the cost of not following their customers/prospects.

We all know that marketing as a function is going through a transformation. Some buzz words and trends that you may have noticed that are playing out in the marketing world are:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid/earned content and many many more.

CMO’s are now being forced to understand technology and work closely with their technology peers (CIO’s or CTO’s).

And there are some really good experts around all these topics, who are so convincing about the topics that they specialize in and can convince you that unless you as a marketing team are not active in their area of expertise you are missing the boat.

Marketing teams should not get carried away by all these transformative forces and the expert speak.

We should not forget the core function of marketing is still to move your customers or prospects through the AIDA phases. This means that the marketing team still needs to keep their customers at the center of everything that they want to do.

This then means that

  • If your customers are not active on social media, you need not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on creating and maintaining social presence just because experts say that is the most important thing to do.
  • If your customers are already congregating on a specific channel, you go to them and interact with them there, instead of trying to get them to come over to where you are (your site, facebook page, YouTube channel, etc).
  • Ensure that all activities (content, social, traditional) should be intentional.

Have you also committed this mistake or know of someone who has committed this information? Do share your story.