9 tips to speed up your business
Fewer meetings and shorter planning periods, rethinking partnerships and flattening the organization structure. These are some of the practices to reinvent your organization for speed in the post-coronavirus era.
The need for speed has never been greater. Here are nine ways companies can get faster, by McKinsey.
- Speed up and delegate decision making
The pandemic has shown that it is possible to make decisions faster: with fewer meetings and fewer decision makers in each meeting. Also, the era of PowerPoint is expiring, with one- to two-page documents or spreadsheets replacing lengthy PowerPoint decks.
Organizations are also increasing the cadence of decisions, planning on a quarterly instead of annual basis.
Finally, top leaders are delegating non-mission-critical decisions. It goes along with tolerating mistakes that don’t put the business at risk, admitting that a slow decision can often be worse than an imperfect one.
- Step up execution excellence
Leaders must assign responsibility to the line, and drive “closed-loop accountability.” That is, everyone working on a team must be clear about what needs to get done by whom, when, and why. Employees must also be equipped with the right skills and mindsets to solve problems, instead of waiting to be told what to do. And there must be disciplined follow-up to make sure actions were taken and the desired results achieved.
CEOs who are serious about execution excellence are investing in helping their workforces up their execution game—e.g. through directing rewards and recognition to teams that execute with speed and excellence.
- Cultivate extraordinary partnerships
Partners are increasingly important in dealing with the pace of change, complexity, and disruptions that are becoming the norm. The connected world is breaking down the traditional boundaries between buyers and suppliers, manufacturers and distributors, and employers and employees.
For partnerships to be successful, the relationship must be built on deep trust, for example by
adopting a more open-source approach to innovation and embedding the partner into everything from strategy-setting to routine operations.
- Flatten the structure
Rigid hierarchies must give way to leaner, flatter structures that allow the system to respond quickly to emerging challenges and opportunities. There are fewer middle managers and span-breakers and more doers and deciders. Creating this new organism requires reimagining structure not as a hierarchy of bosses, per the traditional organization chart, but rather as a dynamic network of teams.
- Unleash nimble, empowered teams
The pandemic has seen the large-scale deployment of fast, agile teams—small, focused cross-functional teams working together toward a common set of objectives that are tracked and measured. Leaders have charged each team with a specific mission, while empowering them to find their own approach, and then getting out of the way. Having one fast, agile team is helpful, but having many of them across an enterprise, and enabling them with the right structures, processes, and culture, makes it possible for the entire system to move faster.
Research by McKinsey and the Harvard Business School found that companies that had launched agile transformations pre-COVID-19 performed better and moved faster post-COVID-19 than those that had not.
- Make hybrid work, work
The next normal will see significantly more people working in a hybrid way—sometimes in person with colleagues on-site, sometimes working remotely. This model can unlock significant value, including more satisfied employees, lower real-estate costs, access to a broader range of talent, greater flexibility and improved productivity.
To achieve these gains, employers need to ensure that the basics are in place to digitally enable remote working and collaboration, while taking care to create working norms that foster social cohesion.
- Field tomorrow’s leaders today
One of the unexpected consequences of the pandemic is that CEOs have seen into a window that shows who their future leaders are. They have seen who can make decisions and execute rapidly; who is able to take on new challenges and lead in the face of uncertainty.
- Learn how to learn
Forward-thinking companies are now accelerating their capability-building efforts by developing leadership and critical thinking skills at different levels of the organization, increasing their employees’ capacity to engage with technology and use advanced analytics, and building functional skills for the future, such as next-generation procurement, Industry 4.0 manufacturing, and digital marketing and sales.
These companies recognize that the pace and scale of learning must keep up with that of innovation and changes in technology. Skills can and do expire. Organizations need people who can continually learn and adapt.
- Rethink the role of CEOs and leaders
The future requires leaders to act as visionaries instead of commanders—focused on inspiring their organizations with a clear vision of the future, and then empowering others to realize the vision. It will require leaders who build winning teams; they coach their players but let them make the decisions and execute. These leaders will need to bring energy and passion to catalyze innovation, change, and growth.