From Differentiator to Necessity: The Need for Speed in Business
Speed in business is no longer a differentiator it is now an across-board expectation and standard. In previous years, how quickly your business operated either set you apart from your competitors or just made you another business. Gone are the times when speed was a quantifier. Customers and clients simply expect that your business can deliver for them quickly, without compromising on quality. If you want to outperform, you’re not only going to have to get faster, but change processes to ensure that the speed you operate at is sustainable for success.
We Know We Can Change Quickly
For leaders and employees alike, we all experienced what it was like to have to pivot and shift during the unprecedented chaos of the pandemic. Leaders were changing processes rapidly to protect employees and abide by the regulations. Employees were shifting to WFH positions and learning how to shift their work/life balance, as the lines between the two became extremely blurred. The pandemic forced everyone to move and change at unexpected speeds. But being forced to move and change at high speeds proved that it can be done.
This brilliant quote from Dov Seidman hits the nail on the head about how we operate during drastic changes. “When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings they start — start to reflect, rethink assumptions, and reimagine a better path.” Leaders and people everywhere began to think and reimagine how they operate and how they can make processes, products, and services better.
Now that people everywhere have seen how quickly businesses can operate and how well they can adapt and change, the expectation of speed is now deeply embedded. We expect our videos to load in less than a second and we expect that our parcels will be delivered the same or the next day, and we expect people to reply within 5 minutes because technology has advanced so far that it’s almost impossible to switch off completely. Amongst the turmoil of the pandemic, we did learn that we are capable of reimagining, redesigning, and executing quickly. Now we need to keep that speed up because the world is not slowing down.
Speed In Business is now A Necessity
In today's fast-paced world, customers not only expect quality products and services but also demand them in the shortest time possible. As a result, the importance of delivery speed has grown rapidly over the years, with businesses that can offer speedy delivery gaining a competitive edge in the market. While the price has always been a significant deciding factor for clients and customers when deciding which service or provider to go with, it is no longer the only factor. In fact, businesses that can provide quicker and more efficient service at a premium price are increasingly becoming more attractive to customers.
For example, companies like Amazon have made same-day and next-day deliveries the norm. As a result, other retailers are forced to compete on delivery speed to remain relevant in the market. The same can be seen in the food industry, where companies like Uber Eats have made speedy food deliveries a necessity. The rise of technology has also contributed to the demand for faster service delivery. Customers expect real-time updates on the progress of their orders and immediate responses to their queries.
Businesses that fail to meet these expectations, risk losing customers to competitors who can provide such quick and quality services. Can you see why speed is essential and why businesses need to prioritise speed in order to meet the demands of the average human in this day and age? There really is a need for speed.
Agile & Lean Methodologies – Staying Ahead of the Game
Adapting to changes and delivering at a faster pace is not just a customer-driven expectation, but it is also an internal business requirement. The need for speed extends beyond customer demands and applies to the internal processes of a business as well. The faster a business can operate, the more agile and responsive it can be to market demands and changes – and in our world that is rapidly advancing, agility is key to keeping up and being successful.
Agile and lean methodologies are some of the ways businesses can achieve faster turnaround times in their internal operations. Agile methodologies emphasise breaking down projects into smaller and manageable parts that can be executed in shorter timeframes, allowing businesses to be more responsive to changes in the market. Lean methodologies, on the other hand, focus on eliminating waste in the production process, reducing the time taken to deliver products and services.
The need for speed in internal operations isn’t limited to just manufacturing or production. Businesses need to be agile in their decision-making processes as well. As markets and consumer preferences change rapidly, businesses need to make decisions faster to keep up with the pace of the market. Unfortunately, yet incredibly, businesses that have been around and successful for a long time are now being outrun by start-ups that have come into the market with agile strategies at their core. To keep up, you’ll need to find places to lean out processes and make them more agile.
Speed in Business is The Necessary Ingredient for Success
The world we live in is getting faster and faster, and so to remain relevant, businesses are needing to become quicker, streamline their processes and integrate technological advancements. The need for speed is both customer-driven and an internal requirement – the more agile the processes of the business, the easier the business will find it to keep up with ever-evolving market demands. Businesses must reimagine, redesign, and execute processes more quickly and find ways to make them more agile. Ultimately, the lesson to learn is that speed is no longer just a differentiator; it is a necessary ingredient for success.
De Smet, A., Mygatt, E., Sheikh, L., & Weddle, B. (2020). The need for speed in the post-COVID-19 era – and how to achieve it. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Organization/Our%20Insights/The%20need%20for%20speed%20in%20the%20post%20COVID%2019%20era%20and%20how%20to%20achieve%20it/The-need-for-speed-in-the-post-COVID-19-and-how-to-achieve-it.pdf?shoul
Shapiro, L. (2021). The unprecedented pace of change. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/02/25/the-unprecedented-pace-of-change/?sh=1bd0cfd640ed
Silva, P. (2021). Speed is the most important thing for your business’s profitability – Here’s why. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2021/06/01/speed-is-the-most-important-thing-for-your-business-profitability—heres-why/?sh=1e586b4769d2