A month ago, many of us were glued to the tube watching the finals of the World Cup from Brazil. It gave us an insight into how in order to win, the players had to be quick and nimble. Every second of the game, the players had to be alert to what was happening on the field. The goalie had to forecast the moves that were required in order to meet the incoming ball to keep out of the net. The player on the field had to judge when was the right moment to kick the ball or to head it. All of these actions require one to be quick and nimble. This applies equally to the business world.
Our managers are faced with the same kind of strategic decisions that the World Cup players are confronted with. We find that as circumstances change we are required to respond quickly and nimbly to the events. We are required to constantly respond to the demands of our clients. We need to be able to respond on a spin of a dime as the needs arise. So the challenge before management today is how do we become that quick and nimble executive that the global workforce expects and even more important demands. What do we need to do to be that agile executive?
David Steinberg, the CEO of XL Marketing, stated, “Innovation doesn’t have to be about creating the light bulb or the telegraph. Innovation can be very important small changes to something that is already working. That is the stuff that is overlooked and it can take things to the next level.” David Steinberg suggests that the changes do not have to be earth shaking or dramatic in any way, they can be simple changes.
What is the path that David Steinberg is alluding to? First, as already stated, listen to the voice of the customer. As a business it is your responsibility to acquire and maintain the clientele. The customer (internal or external) tells us what our actions should be. We need to listen to those messages. Customers complaining that their needs are not being met usually indicate that there is a problem. Second, we need to move to being proactive in finding solutions to the problems. We need to be quick and nimble towards delivering solutions. We must become transparent and be willing to communicate about the issues going on before they become major problems. Third, in order to be quick and nimble, organizations need to be more collaborative with all parties. During one of the presentations of one of our two-day seminars, one of the participants discussed a problem they had which was resulting in back injuries for the workers in the plant. They worked closely with the producers of the wooden pallets to change the way the pallets were handled.
With the understanding that size is not a deciding factor, every organization is trying to change the organization so that it is more effective and efficient in relationship to the demands of the customer. The Voice of the Customer tells us what they are willing to compensate the organization for. The problem is that at times the process is bordering on the extreme in its ability to change. More often then not, organizations end up in “analysis paralysis” where we get so ingrained on collecting the data we fail to rapidly bring about the changes.
In the mean time the world is rapidly changing. So many organizations are seeking ways to get answers quickly. The answer lies in turning the organization into one that is quick and nimble like the soccer player. David Steinberg tells us that the key can very well likely be small changes to the way we deliver the customer needs. They do not necessarily have to be total culture changes.
Becoming quick and nimble like the soccer player in a World Cup game, does not take rocket science. It takes a willingness to look at your processes and be willing to make the small changes to improve the delivery to the customer. It means asking the person on the forefront where do they see problems and taking steps to correct the problem. Being quick and nimble means ready to admit that just because you have done something in one way for time immortal, does not mean it can’t be changed. Being quick and nimble means looking at those steps in your processes and changing those that are dragging the process in directions away from delivery of the end product or service faster, better and cheaper.