Speed or Timeliness: A Strategy Issue

I hear and see organisations and their gurus banging the drum of speed.

Speed is associated with winning, beating the competition, grasping the fleeting opportunity, responding to the disruptive forces of technology, economic conditions and the volatility of almost everything.

Some say that speed is the saint of strategy, or else opportunity is stolen by a faster player.

Tell that to the hare beaten by a tortoise.

OK, that was a metaphoric race between two creatures in a much simpler world.

Complexity has increased, it’s no longer a simple world.

Haste (thoughtless speed) can lead to disaster in this complexity.

The countless start-ups that fail before making a dollar, the “charge of the light brigade”, the rushing of a great idea prior to market testing, are largely about haste.

True, speed counts, but I argue that timeliness is better than speed.

When planning strategic timing, we can ask better questions: –

  1. Why now?
  2. When would be better and why?
  3. What are the factors that make ‘now’ or ‘immediately’ or ‘ASAP’ wise or unwise?
  4. What are the benefits of doing ‘X’ before ‘Y’?
  5. What is the risk/benefit ratio in setting this timeline?
  6. What is the optimum timing and why?

Too often in strategic meetings, dominant people, with their trait of impatience, win the day.

Speedy execution then gets hampered by reality.

Strategic milestones become millstones, and execution can fail.

The effective strategic facilitator will ensure the discipline and time for deep questioning, together with evidence, meaningful data and reflection.

It can make the difference between success or failure.

Timeliness, whatever its speed, is better than just plain speed.

What do you think?

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