Quality trumps speed in corporate strategy


Businesses are constantly looking to improve their operations – which often means trying to operate faster than their competitors.

However, keeping a business moving quickly doesn’t mean that strategic goals are being met. In this situation, senior executives can easily fall into the trap of trying to move rapidly, rather than making decisions that are consistent with their company strategy.

At the same time, staff are unlikely to be engaged with a business that is constantly trying to adapt, without having a strong plan in place.

According to Allen Keyte, Director of Research & Development at StrategyBlocks, realizing greater alignment for company strategies and simultaneously involving staff, represents one of the biggest challenges companies face.

Alignment of processes

In a high-speed business environment where responses are needed almost instantly, there is a real danger that decisions are more about trying to stay on top of new challenges, rather than remaining consistent with an overall strategy.

“We hear quite a lot about trying to align different strategies together but what we have also been hearing is that it is important to assess your situation carefully and that means more than just acting quickly,” stated Mr Keyte.

“People don’t take enough of a moment to properly assess their situation.”

The main challenge occurs when companies face a single rare event that poses a significant challenge to a business, and where senior managers find themselves forced to quickly make a decision. However, organizations that fail to get the right decision at this point also run the risk of making choices that are incompatible with other initiatives.

For companies, this moment is also as much about focusing on what to stop doing in the future. As Mr Keyte puts it: “Stopping certain things is pretty important as most organizations end up with this overload of rules and procedures. These processes stifle innovation and alignment.”

“In a market that is moving quickly, existing rules don’t necessarily apply any more.”

Involvement of people

Just as companies are looking for new ways to align their strategies and focus on resolving issues, there is also a growing need to involve staff with this process on a more comprehensive level. As a result, internal communications are just as important as consistent decision making at the executive level.

“Trying to work out how people in a team are connected is really important because otherwise they will just say ‘we are doing stuff, but I don’t really know how that is making a difference’,” said Mr Keyte.

“There aren’t many people out there who know intimately how their work contributes to the overall performance of a company.”

As well as trying to open up lines of sight so that individuals and teams can understand their place in a business strategy, companies also need to get the right internal structures.

“You’ve got to break teams down to smaller groups – a lot of people call them pods – and those smaller groups have a much greater effect,” said Mr Keyte.

“It also really helps you to see the groups of people and processes that are really getting things done, it just starts to become more apparent where your strategy execution is going well and where it is going wrong.”

By building a strategy that is consistent with company goals, and also developing internal structures that maintain clear lines of sight for staff and team members, businesses can become agile enough to handle a fast-changing market.