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Strategic pace, not operational speed, is key

Myron Jobson

Understanding the difference between operational speed and strategic pace is a key ingredient to running a successful business, according to William Buist.

The chief executive of Gloucestershire-based Abelard Collaborative Consultancy said that company chiefs who focus excessively on accelerating the speed at which practical tasks are completed can be detrimental to employee development and customer experience.

Their sole priority is meeting deadlines, which is characterised by making demands without ample time for explanation, Mr Buist added.

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“This strategy also assumes that the only advantage for a company arises from doing things faster than the competitor,” he said.

“Since the company does not take the time to see how their work aligns with customer needs, they do not continue to provide the quality customer experience that people seek as those needs change.”

A study conducted by Daniel Goleman, an author, psychologist, and science journalist known for his books on psychology, education, and leadership, showed that by improving the workplace culture for employees, companies could boost performance by up to 33 per cent. It also had a positive knock-on effect on customer experience.

Mr Buist, who is also the founder of the xTEN Club – an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners – said a strategically paced goal equips the business with the tools it needs to be responsive to its clients and employees to stimulate growth and success.

He claimed that this is characterised by a focus on delivering value without the fear of slowing the operational process to ensure that progress is continuing along the appropriate track.

“These companies took the time to analyse and refine their value proposition for their products and services, ensured that those met the real needs of customers and validated authentic alignment to actual experience,” he said.

Deep listening, open learning and effective re-skilling are the three main focus points of firms with a strategic pace strategy, according to Mr Buist.

He said: “These companies also understand that alignment and clarity are essential for success so they strive to get everyone on the same page. This takes time, but, once achieved, everyone feels more comfortable working together and giving each other the confidence they need to succeed.”

In addition, companies seeking to implement a more effective strategically paced plan should be aware of the significance of solid leadership – which, Mr Buist said, should involve strong, open communication and a willingness to listen to ideas on how to improve.

It should also focus on the organisation’s end goal and how the goals and processes line up with the company’s values.

He said: “There is more to business than just increasing speed. By treading lightly and finding the optimal strategic pace, organisations will increase their sales and their profits – and you can begin to get off the driven hamster wheel of organisational speed and optimise your time with strategic pace.”