This article builds on my recent post about speed and the pace of change; this article also serves as a primer for my Big Things F@$t™ methodology: a practical guide for aspiring leaders looking to deliver Incremental Value @ $peed™.
Whenever I talk about Big Things F@$t™, invariably people misinterpret that speed is the default. That speed alone will generate the results and the desired outcomes faster. Not so. As Wyatt Earp has said, “Fast is fine but accuracy is everything. In a gunfight, you need to take your time but in a hurry.” (hat tip: Marcus Dimbleby)
My take: Fast is fine but incremental value is everything. In a VUCA world, you need to take your time but in a hurry.
The Incremental Value @ $peed™ Flywheel
The three complementary activities that serve at the heart of value creation at speed are: Strategic Planning & Analysis, Agile, and Change Management. But what do those terms mean? For my application and in my experience, I am defining them as such:
Easy to draw, hard to execute → obstacles and watch outs
One the watch outs in applying my methodology is that it is not linear. It requires critical thinking, deliberate bias busting, and a clear understanding of the strengths and limitations of using any one practice as the silver bullet. I.e., there is no one magical play that will win the day. Every play counts, every play matters and the continuous refreshing of the winning plays in either direction -- offensive or defensive -- is critical. A deliberate attitude toward adaptability will usually win the day and you have to spend time in each of the three circles, making connections and adjustments as needed.
Another stumbling block to consistently executing my construct is prioritization. As I noted in a previous post, “it is priority, not priorities”. While every play matters and every play counts toward your plan, you don’t execute every single play in your playbook simultaneously! Successfully delivery requires focus and prioritization. The objective is to create incremental value in response to constantly shifting externalities (i.e., external pressures such as competition, input costs, human capital, etc., in short a VUCA world), and that requires choices. I’ll expound more on the psychological impact of reprioritization in a separate post.
And finally, successful delivery of Incremental Value @ $peed™ is less about the tools and more about the disciplined use of them that matters. For me and my teams, I have introduced, been certified in, and use Red Team Thinking, Scrum Inc. / Scrum Alliance, and ProSci’s tools for Strategic Planning, Agile, and Change Management respectively, but not exclusively or in isolation of each other. Red Team Thinking's principles and tools, as one example, can and should be applied throughout the flywheel as a way to pressure test Agile and Change Management applications such that they are constantly in service to incremental value creation.
Behavior change is tough → start small, but start
Invariably, all methodologies requiring people to change their behaviors and/or habits are flawed, and have their passionate critics. Said differently, all methodologies are biased and can be misused. I often find that we prefer to get into arguments about what is the right tool and what is the silver bullet. I believe that these arguments are a waste of energy. Pick one, run it as designed, unlearn/relearn, and then adjust and adapt as the environment dictates; minimize analysis paralysis and sub-optimization from the onset.
I have found success, i.e., delivered Big Things Fast, by leveraging this construct, and constantly refining it over time by steadily learning new tools, incorporating new methodologies, and, most importantly, experimenting. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Next: The “Develop” waypoint of Big Things F@$t™; I’ll share how human capital impacts productivity and why stretch goals are a myth.
So, what else?
During my brief stint as an adjunct professor many years ago, I recall that half of my students had dreams of one day starting their own business. One of my favorite parts of the teaching night was when I presented a random idea and asked the students to put on the brainstorm lens - "what else could you do with this...". Most of the time we would end up in the realm of the zany. Sometimes, however, we would actually land on something achievable and plant the seed. This is an homage to ideas - zany or otherwise.