What is Enterprise Velocity?
Grow or die. History shows that even great companies, from Polaroid to Zenith, from Kmart to Howard Johnson, are vulnerable to sudden collapse or erosion. In today’s competitive climate, new opportunities appear everyday for competitors and start-ups to change the rules and steal your revenue base. If you are not growing, you are shrinking – at least relative to the economy.
Yet, growth is difficult to sustain. Growth itself requires a commitment of resources. The marketplace is littered with well-funded companies with strong demand who could not survive the demands of their hyper-growth periods. Growth requires a balance between many competing demands, sales delivery versus cash flow, IT infrastructure versus R&D. Such scarcity is magnified with the pressures of new product launches, new hire training, shifting forecasts and requires amazing tactical efficiency just to continue day-to-day operations.
Many consulting firms will tell you what you need to do to achieve growth; however, they often do not detail how you achieve growth. The purpose of the Enterprise Velocity Model is to let you in on the secrets that successful hyper-growth CEOs live and breathe everyday so that you can implement them in your own firm.
The Five Disciplines
Discipline #1: Ideals
The first step in developing an Enterprise Velocity culture is to establish your ideals. A culture can only thrive if it has touchstones for behavior. A government without laws is anarchy. A company without ideals can never dominate their niche because their actions will not be coordinated.
Many companies are so tactically focused on achieving their monthly and quarterly goals that they do not take the time to establish their ideals. Perhaps they think that their employees already understand their mission and values. Perhaps they remember the lifeless and insincere mission statements of prior employers and associate them with meaningless navel gazing. This is never the case when ideals are established in the right way. It may be hard to take the time to set your touchstones down when you’re worried about the month’s sales performance or your next round of debt financing, but your life will be much easier when your employees are motivated and aligned. Your employees will appreciate that you took the time to establish and communicate what is important to the company for success and what the guidelines are for appropriate behaviors. It gives them security and confidence in their decisions and allows you to act at a higher level freeing you up for a true Enterprise Velocity culture.
In the Enterprise Velocity model, we collect these ideals in five related areas: mission, values, the Impossible Dream, five-year goals and the brand contract.
Discipline #2: Velocity
The second piece of the growth puzzle is what we call velocity. If your unique mission, model and product designs are your engine, velocity is the oil. It is about removing barriers to growth and avoiding the common traps into which many failed growth companies fall. It is a commitment to personal growth, both for yourself and your team. It is about pulling the oars in the same direction.
Many leaders feel too busy to adhere to velocity principles. How can you take the time to establish training and systems when your customer service team is back-logged? How can you take time out to promote alignment when you cannot even fulfill your current order levels? How can you commit resources to outside coaches when your employees do not have time to absorb their current training?
That kind of thinking handcuffs your growth. You must take the time for training, systems, coaching and alignment in order to cure your current problems at the source. Investing ten percent of your resources and time into establishing velocity is like an insurance policy to sustain your organization. When you commit to velocity measures, it is like stepping into the “zone,” where everything else comes easy.
In the Enterprise Velocity Model, we detail velocity in five areas: executive team building, company alignment, constant training, velocity coaching, and marketing strategy.
Discipline #3: Measurement
You would expect a star quarterback in a playoff game to always know the game score, where the clock is, field position and which of his receivers have hot hands. You should expect no less of your management team and employees. If you don’t know the numbers you cannot judge the performance of your company and manage it toward greatness.
Some managers are reluctant to publish regular measurements, perhaps out of a fear of demotivating employees or teams who are underperforming. This is a huge mistake. Your best employees want to see their successes published to the team. Winners like to see the scoreboard. Those who are not meeting their goals are not meeting them for one of two reasons – the goals are set incorrectly or they need to be performance managed out of the organization. Either case requires establishing regular metrics to define success.
There are four areas of measurement that are a must for any organization and are critical for growth organizations in competitive markets: definition of key metrics, regular goals (annual, quarterly and monthly), brand equity and communication audits. If you have uncertainty in any of these areas, you are not alone – many companies fail to measure in more than one or two of these areas. That is all the more reason to get ahead of your competition through an intimate knowledge of your organization and industry.
Discipline #4: Cadence
Winning at business is often likened to playing a sport or musical instrument. As such, the more time you put into regular practice, the more successful your performance. This requires what we call Cadence. Cadence is setting a regular rhythm for the important elements of your business, setting standards and providing frequent moments for teaching, coaching and leadership.
Part of your cadence should be a regular pattern for the establishment and review of your annual and quarterly goals, strategies and tactics. Your company needs regular, well-run meetings to stay on track with these goals and measurements. You should design a plan for communications across your company. And of course, you should find reasons to celebrate as often as possible.
Discipline #5: Creativity
Logic and linear thinking have their place in strategic planning, yet they can also limit your ability for true hyper-growth. True breakthroughs can only come from intuitive and nonlinear approaches to planning, research, design and communication. Your customers seek you out not for the problems you solve, but for the the elegance with which you solve problems. Just look at how the iPhone has elegantly replaced solutions in multiple industries: music, photography, personal computing, broadcast television, dictation among many others.
With the ever increasing pace of change, more of the problems your customers face have no precedent. There are no easy out-of-the-box solutions. The paths to success are not certain. Creativity in business is more important now than it has ever been.
How We Help
Putting the Enterprise Velocity model into action is not easy. It requires discipline and commitment. It sometime requires talking a longer route and short-term sacrifice for long-term results. It requires specialty coaching and assistance – many of the actions we advocate are things that many successful executives will do once or twice in their lifetime while our experienced strategy consultants bring the experience of hundreds of companies with them. Your time is best spent finding new ways to solve your customers’ problems and satisfy their needs, not in facilitating strategic development, tactical meetings, audits and communication design.
We are committed to helping you implement Enterprise Velocity successfully in the following ways:
- Diagnosing: Could you benefit from an experienced outside marketing expert auditing your current processes?
- Teaching: What are the key elements of hyper-growth and how do you apply them in your business?
- Coaching: How do you get the most out of every individual employee and avoid internal conflicts?
- Facilitating: Would you benefit by having an experienced strategist lead your planning sessions, operations meetings, strategic off-sites and more?
- Implementing: Do you need a hired gun to take on a particular project, business plan, web design or more?