In the early 2000’s, entrepreneurs were “moving fast and breaking things” on their pursuit to innovate and build a Unicorn. We saw shifts in strategies, starting with the internet strategy from 90-00, search strategy from 00-04, social strategy from 04-12, camera strategy 12-18 and recently, we’ve been digging deep with a strategic plan that revolves around Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Voice. All of these strategies have prioritized “moving fast” so a first mover advantage can be positioned – which makes sense. But this “fastness” has leaked over to operations, people and culture. This fastness has created organizations and leaders who reward those who talk or ‘work’ the most and move the fastest, versus those who think deeper, strategically and passionately. We live in a world where businesses are simply moving too ‘fast’ versus businesses that execute with speed. And there is a critical difference between moving with speed versus moving fast. Speed is being decisive and taking action on uncertainty while having the willingness to experiment the right way and the openness to listen to the things you don’t want to hear. This (as I’ve stated in the past) leads to consistency and consistency leads to momentum, which leads to commitment, and when you have a committed, reliable, focused, curious and energetic team, this is when business thrives. Fast, is making poor quality decisions quickly, which leads to distractions, misalignments, failure and/or wasting your time on something meaningless. This ultimately creates a toxic business where individuals will start to blame others for failures and leaders will start to wear a mask, where backend communication is met with frontend rhetoric. With that said, I think businesses need to start moving ‘Deep’ in every facet of their organization.
Before carrying forward, we can’t dismiss passion in any element of thinking and the fact that people really need to love what they do – isn’t the whole point to have fun, create value and love what you do? This isn’t a BS Statement! And trust me, there are some people that say “being passionate” or “finding your purpose” or “loving what you do” are BS statements, and those people are entitled to their own opinions…. but not to their own facts! The embedded assumption is that if you are passionate, living a life with purpose and loving what you do, then you are happy and positive. Here’s where things get interesting for the non-believers. A great study called “The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?” identified that if you show up to your day with a positive mindset, you’ll be 31% more productive, have 37% higher sales, and be 3x more creative than your peers – this is why a positive and passionate culture trumps all. Full stop.
Okay, now back to it. As businesses refocus and manage uncertainty post the COVID19 pandemic, one piece of advice applies to every industry: put people first to instill confidence, focus and resiliency. I truly believe the post-COVID business world will see a new strategy – maybe we can call it the “Reset Strategy”. A strategy that understands that time and attention are two of the most precious commodities, and pressure is being applied to both every minute of every day. This is a strategy that understands the power of technology and how it can not only make your business more efficient and effective, but how it can truly help the well-being of your employees. The Reset Strategy will force great organizations to start rewarding people that may do less, but think more. It will reward leaders who are kind versus inconsiderate. It will reward entrepreneurs who build the tallest building by building the tallest building, not by breaking down the buildings around them. As technology becomes less and less of a competitive advantage, since most can cost effectively access it, the business advantage will aggressively come from people, culture, brand and the ability for an organization to think deeply, creatively and strategically with speed, not “fastness”. And as mentioned above, speed is very different than being fast.
Okay Nunzio…but businesses need to push the needle and get results. How?
Understood, business is business and the point of business is to innovate, create jobs and make a profit. In that mission we must ensure we are creating an organization where people love to work and an organization that adds value to the world. We need to value the invisible work; the work being done when no one is watching. This work can very much be intangible, but should be deeply respected. I think the 2 best frameworks that align the organization and help push an effective “Reset Strategy” in a world of remote workers and working from home are the following:
Establishing Type 1 vs Type 2 Decisions
As Jeff Bezos has mentioned in the past, there are 2 types of decisions: Type 1 decisions which are not reversible, and you have to be very careful making them. This is where I would say you need to move ‘Deep’. Type 2 decisions are like walking through a door — if you don’t like the decision, you can always go back. This is where you can move with ‘Speed’. Acknowledging this and creating an organizational structure that understands the types of decisions and how to deploy them will directly affect culture. Remember, culture is based on what you do not what you say. So, as an example, if everything within an organization is taken as a Type 2 decision, then the organization will most likely move franticly, get distracted, be micromanaged and leadership will reward those who talk or ‘work’ the most and move the fastest. This will ultimately make other team members who are in deep work and making Type 1 decisions feel undervalued. So, a deeper plan and framework must be made on acknowledging deliverables within an organization that requires “deep” work versus “speedy” work.
Results-only Work Environment (ROWE)
Today’s world, post-COVID19, business leaders need to embrace the ROWE management style. This style focuses on results and employees’ performance, not where and when people work. This creates a culture based on trust, accountability, autonomy, independence and putting a spotlight on an individual’s contribution, whether it’s thinking or doing. BizON has been running this type of management style from the beginning.
With both frameworks, I truly believe businesses can embrace the reset strategy and push their business forward. Execution is important, but not everything – it shouldn’t replace strategic thinking. The moment execution trumps all it will inevitably lead to a toxic environment and a culture that will forever be sitting on a shaky foundation. As the workforce leans towards autonomy, leaders need to change their style. When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders.
I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity and how the pandemic has brought the plague of busyness to a halt. The world is changing and resetting, so should business leaders and organizations.