Here is a very timely book from several thoughtful people at The Forum Corporation, Strategic Speed (Harvard Business Press) was written by Jocelyn Davis, Henry Frechette, and Edwin Boswell and recently released. Forum has shown great longevity. It was founded in 1971 and I competed against it in the 1980s when I was with a long since gone learning firm.
I could not agree more with their basic orientation. It is time to engage and empower employees rather than simply fine tune processes and continue to do things to people in the outdated mode of Fred Taylor. The authors use a nice image of the college campus with paved walkways and barren short cuts across the lawns. You can try to regulate what people do but they will go against the grain if it makes sense to them.
Enterprise 2.0 provides us with better tools to empower and engage employees and enable them to set the proper pathways that better align with actual business processes. Technology is not the focus of this book but it offers an approach that will work very well to guide enterprise 2.0 adoptions.
The authors did extensive research in creating this book. They looked at hundreds of examples of accelerated and sluggish businesses, created 18 in-depth cases examples, and surveyed 343 senior business leaders in n both fast and slow companies. From this work they abstracted four critical leadership practices than enable strategic speed and conceived of two key metrics: reduced time to value and increased value over time. I like the value part as too often ROI has focused on speed issues without tying them back to the bottom line.
The book begins with a useful chart of ten differences between fast and slow companies. The underlying themes for fast firms include collaboration, reflection, transparency, flexibility, coordination, innovation, and alignment. These are all issues that are better enabled through proper use of enterprise 2.0 technologies. Consistent with these themes are three basic principals the authors found in fast firms: clarity, unity, and agility.
They note a bit later that business collaboration is the main driver of unity. In contrast, when there is a culture of internal competition projects and strategies get derailed. I have certainly seen this latter problem first hand. For example, when managers are asked to rank order their teams in performance reviews that is an invitation for counterproductive competition. This approach can put individual goals above team and company goals. The authors offer a number of examples where learning activities went across divisional and, even company, boundaries to create greater collaboration and unity.
They also introduce a strategic speedometer to enable you to better measure your company’s efforts on the three fronts of clarity, unity, and agility. Again, this score card can be a very useful metric in evaluating enterprise 2.0 adoption with such measures as the translation of strategy into clear and measureable goals, presence of cross- boundary collaboration, and evidence that people capture and communicate what they learn from initiatives.
I certainly recommend this book for anyone undertaking an enterprise 2.0 adoption, as well as those who simply what to effectively speed up the efforts of their company. There are many useful examples and practices to achieve these goals.