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!

Did you want to learn more? Contact us here or read more on some of our other pages

9DOTS Stomps Cancer!

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 12.58.15 PMAt 9DOTs we are creative and as different as the strategies to solve the 9DOTS puzzle. But each member of the 9DOTS team has one similarity in common. We have each had a loved one affected by cancer. (Click the 9DOTS team page here!)

We are very passionate about service to the community, and know we could always do more. That is why it was a unanimous decision to choose Bringing Hope Home as a charity we want to fundraise for. We all have a personal connection to the mission of BHH, “Bringing Hope Home is a non-profit organization that provides unexpected amazingness to local families with cancer through financial and emotional support.” The 9DOTS family knows first hand that it is the unexpected acts of kindness that make us the most thankful and able to fight on!

Some “unexpected amazingness” provided by Bringing Hope Home:

  • Unexpected amazingness is when our Family Navigator talks to your landlord and negotiates that when we pay one month of your rent, he will give you one month free.
  • Unexpected amazingness is receiving a gift card from Bringing Hope Home for groceries when you haven’t eaten in days.
  • Unexpected amazingness is knowing that people like Bringing Hope Home care, and are here for you and your family along your cancer journey.
9DOTS Stomps Cancer

Here are some of our 9DOTS fighters and families!!

If you click the 9DOTS team page HERE, you can take part in paying for groceries, buying an extra meal, helping pay the rent, & even more for a family struggling with the hurdles and effects of cancer. Please join 9DOTS in fundraising an amazing event and support local families with cancer!

 

Data, Data Everywhere! But is There an Answer Insight?

businessman-with-binoculars-44303560-resized-600In blog posts, our LinkedIn Groups, on Facebook, we tend to throw the words “data” & “insight” around like they are one in the same. I know, I know, last week we talked about “Excel” vs. “spreadsheets” this week it’s “data” & “insight.” Has 9DOTS Thinking Outside the Box blog suddenly become a long-winded vocabulary lesson!? I promise you the answer is no, AND I am going to keep it short. The difference between the words “data” and “insight” are just as important as last weeks post (found here), if not more important, because we ALL use the words as synonyms–even previous 9DOTS blogs!

To keep it short & sweet:

  • Data = unprocessed facts, in no organized fashion, from multiple different sources
  • Insight = actionable knowledge that comes from data

This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it is critical to identify the difference. You see, that while it is great to have tons of data, you may not have all of the information or knowledge you really need to gain competitive advantage. How many products did you sell last month? You probably know that number off the top of your head! But why? Why did you sell (or not sell) that amount? What will you accomplish as a business next month, in 6 months, based on the data & numbers you have from last year? Is that change in marketing that you made working positively?

With the right analytics, data can be pulled together from different sources, be organized and help you gain knowledge you didn’t even realize you could have about your organization. Many businesses use data to drive actions and decisions, but if information gives you actionable insight you are much closer to finding value. Turning data into INSIGHT creates the narrative you need to tell your story. As long as you have the correct tools to do so, you will see drastically less unorganized numbers and much more actionable knowledge and information.

See the Smoke, Stop the Fire!

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Before the smoke detector, the common man knew little about fire prevention. Today, the use of the smoke detector has completely changed your safety:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke detectors
  • More than one-third (37 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke detection are present.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke detection.

You own a house. And in that house are multiple smoke detectors, decorating the walls and ceilings of random rooms awaiting the rare instance that your house does go up in flames. These smoke detectors do just that, detect the smoke before the fire so that you and your family get out safe. It wouldn’t be beneficial if your house were on fire, burning to the ground and suddenly and alarm goes off telling you there’s a fire. I think at that point we’d already know.

The CEO of any sized company doesn’t know IT jargon, nor can he spend the time needed to look at loads of spreadsheets and discover what is going on. When a CEO of any sized organization looks at information about the progress of their company, one thought is on his or her mind “What can I do to make us more profitable?”  It’s not really beneficial to know all the good you’ve done. Boosting company morale is great, but when there is red in your charts on your dashboard, and metrics show your competition is surpassing you, you know you have to stop it immediately.

Enter Dashboards: The common business man’s smoke detector–complete with graphs and charts that represent your data. The number one reason to implement data visualization in 2015 was demand from executive leadership for self-service analysis. “Data visualization becomes a critical enabler for disseminating insights to senior leaders who may not have the technical ability, or frankly the time, to customize reports or analyze data in Excel” (Gleansight Benchmark Report 2015). You can use dashboards to visualize performance, but the real value is using them to detect the smoke in your organization. Without dashboards you can’t see disaster coming.

Consider the following facts that are directly related to dashboard ownership:

  • Better decision making – Simplistic views and revenue streams provide immediate insight to pivot your corporations quickly
  • Revenue Growth – By being able to visualize your stream by relevant segment (i.e. Region, department, product, sku, etc..) changes can be made to enhance further growth in faster growing areas.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency – The knowledge to know where and why we are losing profitability can be known before it’s too late.
  • Enhanced Customer Service – Value added services through visualization for your customer base. This allows your customer to make better decisions with you as their vendor!

Smoke detectors save lives and they save homes. Their purchase has become a no brainer in the personal residence industry. They are a proven tool for detecting issues before they occur.

In the corporate world, the same critical detection exists today with Dashboards. Everyone can use them, everyone can gain from their on-demand, visually stimulating, and easy-to-use interfaces. Therefore, the question can no longer be, why do I need it? But instead should become do I need 1 for every office?

Ch-ch-changes!

bowieCHANGESTurn and face the strange. Now, maybe David Bowie could change the way he looked at the drop of a hat without a care in the world, but for CEOs of any sized organization, it’s just not that easy to make a change. But like the “Changes” lyrics say, we can’t stop time. If every day you are worrying about the effect of environmental changes, interest rate shifts, customer behavior contradictions, supply issues, and any other unpredictable factors, it’s probably time to make a change. CEOs have a lot on their plate, which means so do their employees. Maybe last year and the years before, you just couldn’t adapt fast enough. That is why you implement a forecasting solution that does the worrying for you.

In work, just as in your every day life, uncertainty and risk just happen. And when these things do happen, you want to adapt your business and accommodate the variables quickly and painlessly. With an automated and streamlined forecasting process, you make adjustments frequently and utilize the past few years of stress by applying them to your future in order to make positive changes.

17% of businesses suffered financial loss in 2015 due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% of businesses say their key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets. It is not worth the jumbled numbers, and stress of change, if it is also hindering your processes and holding you back from becoming a more profitable organization. Time is not going to stop, so take a take a page out of Bowie’s book and make some changes.

 

Speaking of changes: 9DOTS has been making some changes to its website & content, check them out here & look around!

9DOTS is a Top 10 Budgeting and Forecasting Solution Provider for 2016

9DOTS w8ys88.image-16as named a Top 10 Budgeting and Forecasting Solution Provider for 2016 by CFO Tech Outlook. They describe Budgeting & Forecasting as the cornerstone of a financial institution’s control process. “We have reviewed many firms in the budgeting and forecasting landscape, and shortlisted the ones that are at the forefront of tackling the industry challenges.” 9DOTS is excited to help CFOs that relentlessly strive to gain insight into their data accomplish more and find that visibility.
“With speed and optimized memory management, proCube, combines large amounts of data quickly and accurately creating time to spend on other profitable decisions and projects,” says 9DOTS CEO, John Florio about the company’s pilot product.

9DOTS’ key solution, onePlan, provides organizations the essential tools needed to consolidate the budgeting process and create detailed financial budgets in all areas including expense, compensation, revenue and capital. The software leverages past performance to predict and forecast strategies to improve business outcomes. onePlan’s multi-tiered parameters and standardized calculations reduces the need for manual data entry.

CHECK US OUT HERE & HERE  @CFOTECHOUTLOOK.comScreen Shot 2016-03-17 at 10.58.11 AM

“You are Only as Good as Your TEAM”

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Insight into your business is a gift you benefit from every minute of your work day, and it is truly priceless in it’s usefulness and its efficiency. There is a need for Business Intelligence solutions from a team that thinks outside of the box, like 9DOTS. I post blog posts every week about 9DOTS and our comprehensive product…

BUT, do you really know 9DOTS or our CEO John Florio who is passionate about our products, solutions and team? The inception of 9DOTS and the years that laid the foundation for 9DOTS have led to our success today. The history of how we became this team of like-minded thinkers is relevant in getting to know who we are!

We are passionate about being a team with our employees and our clients. As John says when he talks about the growth and continuous success of 9DOTS, “you are only as good as your team.”

Watch this TV Interview with Main Line Connect & Jennifer Lynn Robinson to GET TO KNOW 9DOTS!