Companies are like boxers. They need to be light on their feet, have grit to take a hit and recognize when to throw a hook, a jab or an upper cut. And, if you want to be the last company standing, you better be just as dexterous and quick, because anything less is like gluing a boxer's feet to the mat.
Unfortunately, what often happens with successful companies is they release an innovative product that fills a market need, ride the tidal wave of success, and then plateau or go out of business.
Think of household names like Blockbuster, Kodak and Blackberry. When they were big, did you ever imagine their products would become obsolete? Why did their fate pan out differently than Google, Apple and Amazon?
In his article "Speed Doesn't Kill... Slow Kills Organizations," Dr. John Sullivan points out that companies like Blockbuster "moved too slow as organizations, and now their leaders, owners, and employees are suffering the negative consequences." This is in stark contrast to other companies, like Google, who are "'built for speed'" and "have grown and prospered because of that ability to move fast."
Too often, companies are bogged down with the weight of their own complicated decision-making processes, either causing them to miss opportunities or limit their choices as time progresses. In today's rapidly shifting landscape, where technology and the exchange of information makes simply keeping up a struggle (not to mention pulling ahead), it's no longer enough to be the best at something: You must also outmaneuver the competition and move fast.
For example, what does the process for promoting an individual in your company look like? You might wonder what this has to do with movement within the bigger landscape, but companies like Netflix believe that the chaos of growth shouldn't be met with rules and policies, but rather "Ever More High Performance People." With the right people in place, you don't need to spend the time and resources policing your employees to make sure work gets done. They'll be productive from their own initiative.
So, if your promotion process moves along at a crawl, you risk losing such high performance people to other companies offering them career and pay advancement now.
In fact, at BambooHR, we have a quick, albeit intense, hiring process because we know that slow, drawn out hiring often leads to talent accepting jobs at faster moving companies.
As Sullivan puts it: "Processes must be built for speed--all business processes must be continually assessed for speed. Those that fall behind must be redesigned and all new processes must include the essential design components for speed. In a fast-moving world, processes must also have a Just-in-time capability to handle sudden and fast arriving situations."
If you're one of those companies whose feet are glued to the mat, it's not too late to pry yourself loose and land those punches. It might take a learning curve and some growth pains, but, in the end, you'll be floating around the competition, stinging like a bee.