Fast beats slow

Departments - Words of Wilson

March 31, 2017

Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

CEOs can learn a lot from the makers of the Lucid Air.
© Lucid Motors

An upstart electric carmaker is pushing the automotive envelope. The Lucid Air claims to be a “jet on wheels.” With a top speed of 200 miles per hour and zero-to-60 in 2.5 seconds, you might ask, “Who needs 1,000 horsepower?”

We do.

Whether you’re test-driving your proposed new business performance model or building a strategy to execute your next generation super service, as CEOs we can learn a lot from what innovators are doing in forward-thinking industries. As tech engineers reimagine speed and agility, we too can be inspired to reimagine our companies of the future as sleek engines with vibrant cultures driving them.

Today, agility and the ability to pivot are rewriting the rules of the road. Moving quickly, adjusting to variables and getting out in front of market shifts, customer buying preferences and demographic changes is a mind-boggling objective. But with next-generation minds building tools to accelerate at unheard of ratios, not tinkering with our own performance model is no longer an option.

If you’re leading a family-owned business with sights set on becoming exceptional, these seven steps will help you rev up your culture and transform the way your employees and your customers think about what you do and the speed at which you do it.

1. Make culture deliberate.

Companies with healthy, high-performing cultures emphasize and nurture them. They make a deliberate effort to reinforce and shape the contours of the workplace and its attitudes and behaviors every day. Make culture a part of your strategic plan and lead by example.

2. Create a sense of urgency.

Creating an atmosphere of urgency will enable your people and your company to achieve more. Without it, there is little motivation to get things done. The urgency comes from having deadlines, actionable goals and employees who work with passion to move your business forward. Work with your team to build an outcome-focused culture, remove obstacles that get in the way, and show your commitment by stepping up your leadership to ignite and inspire an atmosphere of achievement.

3. Eliminate complacency.

Complacency is losing your momentum to compete. When complacency or disengagement sets in, customers that have a zero tolerance for waiting will go elsewhere. As you struggle to reinvent your company’s way of working, pay close attention to your role as a leader in creating or eliminating complacency. Leaders need to foster a culture where employees feel empowered to experiment with new ways of doing things.

4. absolute accountability.

A focus on accountability is tougher than it sounds. While companies do many things right, they do not often set clear expectations on performance. Companies that have a culture of accountability have well-documented goals and expectations for desired results. Accountable teams are committed to shared goals and together strive to meet expectations. When expectations are not met, there are consequences. In some family-business cultures, when individual performance issues are overlooked, overall performance suffers.

5. Think big.

An attribute of a high-performing culture is a shared commitment to the big picture and lack of finger pointing. When things don’t go as planned, a healthy company looks for the “why” not the “who.” The blame game degrades progress and jeopardizes continuous improvement on underlying processes. Focus instead on how to meet ultimate goals, get optimum quality and results, and fix the system.

6. Invest in technology.

Things that grow and things of value, like relationships, take time. When interrupted Wi-Fi means lost access and potentially lost revenue, investing in technologies that make your services and delivery more turnkey is critical. Embrace applications that help your people become more nimble thinkers, more responsive, more precise and more helpful to your customers and their issues. With instant access to everything, the organization that delivers first will have the competitive advantage.

7. Promote collaboration.

Collaborative work environments promote ideas that drive problem solving and better ways of doing things. Break down silos and traditional hierarchical structures that inhibit people from engaging with one another at all levels, and celebrate creative thinking. Nothing shuts down progress faster than ignoring a good idea.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.