A CEOs Best Advice? Slow Down to Speed Up

tortoise-hare-1Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You hear those words all the time. Those of us non-millennials practiced this repeatedly in grade school during fire drills. No chaos. When the alarm goes off move in the single file line to the nearest exit.

Why does running your corporation need to be any different? Most days, some sort of fire drill is occurring. Day to day operations for the senior leaders feel more like a work out than a workday.

Need more speed? Slow down.  In business, there’s a speed gap; it’s the difference between how important a firm’s leaders say speed is to their competitive strategy and how fast the company actually moves. That gap is significant regardless of region, industry, company size, or strategic emphasis. Organizations that fear losing their competitive advantage spend too much time and resources looking for ways to pick up the pace.

Try slowing down instead. In a study of 343 businesses, conducted by the Harvard Business Review, companies that embraced initiatives and chose to go, go, go to try to gain an edge, ended up with lower sales and operating profits than those that paused at key moments to make sure they were on the right track. What’s more, the firms that “slowed down to speed up” improved their top and bottom lines, averaging 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period.

How did they do it? Perhaps they thought differently about what “slower” and “faster” mean. They defied the laws of business physics, taking more time than competitors yet performing better. As CEO’s and COO’s we sometimes confuse operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value)—and the two concepts are quite different. In professional service organizations, that may simply look like increasing the labor on a project, for example, as one way to try to close the speed gap. But that often leads to decreased value and profit over time, in the form of lower-quality project delivery and service. Likewise, new initiatives that move quickly may not deliver any value if time isn’t taken to identify and adjust the true value proposition.

In the study by HBR, higher-performing companies with strategic speed made “alignment” a priority. They became more open to entrepreneurial thinking.  They encouraged innovative thinking. In contrast the fast moving operational firms suffered by moving fast all the time. They focused too much on maximizing efficiency. These firms remained stagnant in their thought process that what they have always done is tried and true. They didn’t foster employee collaboration and were not overly concerned with “alignment”.

Strategically fast company senior leaders are closely aligned and committed to the initiatives success. Team members sometimes switch responsibilities to make things easier for one another. Teams review how their work is going. Groups capture and communicate lessons learned. Success is based on the ability to explore new technologies. Employees create innovative methods, products and services. Management systems work coherently to support overall objectives. Even experienced employees receive training when initiatives are launched.

Ultimately, strategic speed is a function of leadership. Executives that become comfortable taking time to get things right, rather than push forward at full bore, are more successful in meeting their business objectives. So…slow down, take a breath, understand the overall objective, align the team and watch how fast you will go!

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9DOTS is at ILTACON 2016

9DOTS_Logo_FullColor-Horizontal-RGB9DOTS is at the ILTA 2016 conference starting today, Monday August 29 until Wednesday August 30. We are booth #935. Please stop by and chat with our team! 9DOTS is excited to speak with law firms from all over the country and inform you about who we are.

 

ILTACON-logo-200ILTACON is a four-day educational conference that draws on the personal and collective strengths of professionals working in technology within law firms and legal departments. ILTACON will empower us to share what works, what doesn’t and the tools to face challenges now and in the future. All educational content is developed by a conference committee of 40+ peers.

We have a stellar lineup of keynote speakers who take the stage each morning, and attendees will experience various session formats, including hands-on, interactive audience participation, case studies, advanced curriculum, roundtables, lecture presentations and panel discussions. You are sure to have numerous takeaways to use back at the office!

You are an Olympic Athlete: Take Your Organization to the GOLD!

what-are-olympic-gold-medals-made-of_7f8d3dd0cefe19b5The 2016 Summer Olympics have just ended–weeks of 24-hour coverage of the best athletes in the entire world. It is pretty amazing when you stop and think about it. The best athletes in their country of thousands or millions competing to be the best on the planet. Olympians are given the opportunity to show that an entire lifetime of hard work, hours and hours of training, achieves the greatest competitive advantage of all. BUT there is something aside from just their talent that has gotten these valiant competitors to the Olympics. Any Olympic medalist will tell you, a knowledgeable coach, trainer, mentor makes all the difference in preparing for competition. I picture the people who spend countless hours in the office going through spreadsheets and unorganized data to get their financials compiled, as the athletes who fall short of 1st place because they did not have a coach’s guidance to form the strategy that earns them the gold.

The people who are able to utilize the capabilities of a self-service Business Intelligence tool are the athletes that have the guidance and direction that takes them to the next level of their game.  BI tools offer information that can take the operations of your business to the next level, olympian-status level, and give you the time to spend on different aspects of your day. It is the athletes with an experienced coach by their side that have competitive advantage. They are taking every single thing that can take them to the top and using it to their advantage. Their athleticism along with their coach’s knowledge allows them to spend their training time efficiently.

The athletes are able to leave the strategy up to their coach and work on other aspects of their game and focus more on things like conditioning and form.  An organization with a Business Intelligence platform can reduce working hours on tasks and instead focus on effective decision making and actionable information. These coaches have many years of experience, which they use to help prepare their athletes for things that can happen in the midst of their performance.  I related these coaches to a Business Intelligence provider who has professionals with experience in different industries who help format a BI tool in a way that will help their clients take action on future scenarios.  Just as an athlete puts his trust in their coach, you should put your trust in your BI provider to help you prepare for the future.

Sign up for a free demonstration of 9DOTS self-service BI tool and let them streamline your financial processes. Maybe you are no athletic olympian, but you can take your organization to gold-medal status. Learn more here or contact someone from 9DOTS here! 

CFO Series: Even the Star Athlete Needs a Team

Part 1 of the CFO Series by our Thought Leader, Mike Marotta,  Cfo the New Corporate Athlete, talked about how diverse the role of the CFO has become, “Like a star athlete, the CFO has many responsibilities, guides a team to victory with his talent and has unbelievable focus and determination to deliver the final goal.” Just like we mentioned before, the job of the CFO has drastically expanded. It’s become a job that may be too big for any one individual to do well, given all the responsibilities. Tony Klimas, Global Finance Performance Improvement Advisory Leader at Ernst & Young isn’t even sure one CFO is enough! “The incredible contrast between the day-to-day tactical controllership functions, and the very long-term, strategic, executive functions. It’s now more important than ever for the CFO to not just worry about their role, but also the team that they surround themselves with.” CFOs roles today more than ever are no longer geared towards the traditional financial skills they are becoming the CEOs most valued asset.

What is a star olympic athlete without a team to play on? All eyes are on the over-performing CFO, but you can’t exceed expectations if you are over-worked and playing every position. The CFO ensures the fact that all business decisions are grounded in strong, analytical and financial criteria. They choose and teach the team that works with him so that they can provide instant insight and analysis needed by the CEO & other senior decision makers. They fund, enable and execute the strategy set forth by their CEO. They represent the organization to external stakeholders. But playing all of these positions is affecting their work lives:

  • 52% cannot focus on strategic priorities because of the increasing operational responsibilities
  • 47% say their finance function does not have the correct capabilities to meet the demands of the future
  • 60% believe access to data and advanced analytics will be a critical need for their organization finance function in the future
  • 71% believe they will increasingly be responsible for strategic decision-making in support of their organization’s purpose

Technology is helping to transform operations, reduce operational expenditure and support more flexible, scalable systems & processes. This means, new technology helps manage the Olympic team the corporate athlete needs. With a self-service BI solution, they have the ability to push key metrics to stakeholders and senior-level management teams smart devices at any time. Their employees can then answer their own questions and solve problems before they affect the rest of the team. Like we said last time, a good leader is only as good as his team & technology.

 

Here is more information bout how a self-service BI solution can save you time & money.

BI Best Practice: Tips you Need for a Profitable 2017

inspirational-einstein-quotesEvery day, our job revolves around one question, “How can I improve my organization?” We implement Business Intelligence practices & projects with the intention to perform better overall and help our organization do the same. But just like with everything in life, we can fall victim to monotony & comfort and forget about making changes to implement practice. This article by Dundas BI lays out the most important practices when it comes to BI implementation–don’t fret about the effort it could take to make a change, think about the end result and health of your organization by:

  1. Defining success: “Every successful project must start with the definition of what success looks like.” When you identify exactly what it will take to improve your organization, you will be able to complete projects that have a direct impact on the bottom line, and a direct impact on the change you wish to make. BI projects fail because we forget why we started. Each person on your team should have the same definition of success so that there is no miscommunication, and a project can be implemented exactly as planned by every single person involved.
  2. Changing behavior: It is Einstein that said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” When you want to make a positive change in your organization’s practices, you need to think differently and make different decisions than when you started. “If data is purely visualized, yet behavior remains constant, then it’s nothing but pretty information.” Business Intelligence is meant to drive change, so make sure that everyone involved is changing their behavior in order to create the success you defined and accomplish your goals. “The BI disciplines are merged with human behavior, however the vast majority of businesses will keep them separate and independent of one another.  To ensure success, the two must unite. “
  3. Specify Quality vs. Quantity: Each one of these tips affects the other. By defining success and using that definition to change your behavior, you are able to identify the quality metrics you need to balance the quantity. Simplicity is key. You may worry that by simplifying you are eliminating something you need. But when you define what you need for success, the quality of your metrics will include everything you need. “BI is about more than just accuracy and volume.  Low quality metrics can waste a user’s time, whereas high quality metrics and data can facilitate better decision-making and behavior.”
  4. Empower, don’t monitor: “This premise can be applied to BI to help recognize, that if you can see patterns and your numbers can predict the future, you will be able to better advise users on how to realize success.” Monitoring your users can hinder there performance and lead to a lack in a change of behavior. Implementing a successful BI solution should make each one of your users strive to focus on the success of your organization. A BI solution that fosters personal and professional growth will help to ensure that users are nurtured and empowered.

By approaching your new BI solution with these four best practice tips, you will have a seamless implementation AND a successful one. With every important member of your team on board, you can reach your goals in no time.

 

Are you looking to successfully implement a BI solution? Contact us here