Thursday, July 24, 2014

EICHNER: Slowing down to speed up

By KEVIN EICHNER, Leadership Matters | 4/1/2013

All of us these days seem to be in a tremendous rush. Get this out this afternoon. Make this happen by tomorrow. Gotta get this going or else. Why can’t this computer start up faster? And on it goes.

While our technologically enabled world requires that all of us move faster and make decisions more expeditiously, all of this haste, as the old saying goes “can make for waste.” Sometimes we find ourselves doing a better and better and faster and faster job everyday of doing many of the wrong things. No amount of speeding up the sale and distribution of physical videotapes through retail store outlets was going to save Blockbuster. The competition (Netflix, iTunes, others) had obviated that business model almost overnight.

All of us these days seem to be in a tremendous rush. Get this out this afternoon. Make this happen by tomorrow. Gotta get this going or else. Why can’t this computer start up faster? And on it goes.

While our technologically enabled world requires that all of us move faster and make decisions more expeditiously, all of this haste, as the old saying goes “can make for waste.” Sometimes we find ourselves doing a better and better and faster and faster job everyday of doing many of the wrong things. No amount of speeding up the sale and distribution of physical videotapes through retail store outlets was going to save Blockbuster. The competition (Netflix, iTunes, others) had obviated that business model almost overnight.

So it is that leaders sometimes need to slow down and really analyze what trends and innovations are disrupting or threatening to disrupt their very businesses instead of just putting the hammer down and pushing harder at what they already do. Now, I am not suggesting that slowing down customer responses is a good idea. Quite the opposite. What I am suggesting is that the leader think about how to develop entirely new paradigms of performance that might build real strategic advantage.

Ask yourself these questions: What, if I could do it today, would completely transform my business and put us on a course that few others could emulate (at least in the short term)? What, if it could be done differently, would completely annihilate old assumptions and standards of turnaround times, cycle times and customer responsiveness?

These are precisely the kinds of questions that have made whole new business models and extraordinary innovations that have taken organizations to the stratosphere. Can’t you just imagine Steve Jobs and the Apple folks asking those kinds of questions when they developed the iPhone and iPad? All that did was make one of the top three valued companies in the world.

Most of us don’t aspire to those lofty heights. However, all of us do aspire to building more and lasting strategic value. It might be time to slow down to think about how to really, really speed things up in your world.

Kevin Eichner is president of Ottawa University. He invites your feedback to this column. Email him at leadershipmatters@ottawa.edu

comments powered by Disqus