As Samsung stages its comeback with the launch of Galaxy Note 8, the reviews so far are good. It's less than a year since the Korean tech giant learnt a painful lesson about finding the right pace for growth with the literal explosion of its Galaxy Note 7 phone.
Samsung had been growing at a spectacular rate since 1993 when Chairman Kun-hee kicked off a global growth strategy. They had a fast-following rather than an innovation-based strategy. Profit margins were good and they sold more devices than any other company at a time when phone industry was evolving rapidly. But this speed meant that Samsung had to cram functionality into each new device to keep up with its competitors.
Galaxy Note 7 flames out
Launched in August 2016, the first batch of the Galaxy 7 phones were recalled just two weeks later after several phones caught fire. Despite some initial very public assurances Samsung had abandoned the device by October and was issuing profit warnings. What ensued was a reputation nightmare with images of melted phones in airplanes posted all over the media. Samsung was going too fast, pushing beyond its capacity and neglecting to build the right capabilities for the future. To date, it is estimated that recall cost Samsung over $5.3 billion.
The right pace wins the race
Every athlete will tell you that the right pace wins the race. Running a business we need to find the right pace to execute and the right pace to build capacity for growth. If we always go as fast as we can, we make mistakes and get burned out. If we go too slow, we lose the race to others who are nimbler than we are. Sometimes we need to hold back and conserve energy and other times we need to push very hard.
3 Ways to correct your pace now
What's the right pace for your company or team right now? There's no easy answer-- but here are 3 ways to tell if you are going too fast.
1. Are there many initiatives or projects being driven globally that impact the same job groups? Slow down to simplify, streamline, and align.
2. Are your frontline leaders overwhelmed by requests and mandates from many functions? Slow down to prioritize and agree how to liberate some of their time or support them better.
3.Do you need to make an important decision about your business that will require new capabilities to execute? Slow down to meaningfully involve people who need to be committed to executing the change.