— April 11, 2018
In the business world, scalability has always enabled companies to have an advantage over their competitors. It’s what’s made them strong contenders in an economically challenging business environment. Thanks to scalability, the more of something companies had, the better it was for their business. However, because of several disruptions in recent years, particularly thanks to technology, doing business has experienced massive and drastic changes. Hence, achieving and banking off scalability has become a challenge.
New companies like AirBnB and Uber have been catalysts of radical changes in the space of hotel and public transportation. Their low-capital, technology driven solutions have allowed them scalability that industry veterans could possibly never match. By harnessing technology and heavily focusing on customer experience companies like these have altered the game dramatically. What they’ve achieved is replacing traditional buying scalability with algorithms, platforms, wide access and enriched the entrepreneurial spirit in just about anyone.
New Scalability Initiatives
To really take on the new competitors traditional players had to reassess how they’ll be doing business in the age of rapid and accelerated growth. You can’t possibly expect to win this battle if you’re clinging on to archaic ways of doing business. Technology needs to be embraced. However, that’s not all.
For companies to remain relevant, new scalability initiatives are required. And not just scalability in terms of raw materials and resources. Companies have to rebuild their teams with talent that’s tech savvy and capable of understanding the beast of a challenge that industries are facing in the exponential age. They need technology at all levels in their business to redefine their operations, communications and workflows. And they need agility in terms of a forward thinking, future driven mindset that’s responsive to the ever changing environment.
However, all these initiatives alone won’t gear your company to succeed. You’ll merely be scratching the surface. Sure you’ll be better equipped to handle future challenges, however, you won’t be able to really succeed unless you’re willing to fail fast and move forward.
Try, Fail, Move Forward
Typically, when companies face intense competition they tend to slow down and hunt for ways to crawl out of their caves with renewed zeal. Sure, you’ll utilize this time to hit the drawing board, have multiple brainstorming sessions and hope to reinvent your company’s drive, however, you’ll be too late. By the time you come out of this R&D phase you’ll have missed a lot of the opportunities you could have capitalized on. Why? Because your competitors aren’t slowing down. Neither are your consumers’ needs and desires. Hence, by the time you resurface, your customers would have moved forward to the next trend that captivates their imagination. You’ll be back to square one having lost all opportunities to stabilize and grow your company.
Rather than going into a cocoon phase, companies that truly understand what it takes to survive and succeed in the exponential age will move fast, take a stab at multiple opportunities, fail and move forward. By failing you’re not killing your confidence, instead you’ll learn from it and be able to quickly apply it to a new project. And many companies have proven that their bounce back from failing has been stronger, more impactful and much more successful.
Having Agility and Speed
To make progress when your competitors are running faster than you, your company will need agility and speed of your own. And here’s how you can create both.
1. Develop a Culture of Learning From Failing
Time is of the essence here, hence, your teams will need to understand that moving faster than what the norm was is imperative. And if moving fast means you’ll be failing, then so be it. It’s perfectly fine to fail if you can deduce and draw learnings from it, revise your strategies and try again. The culture you’re aiming to promote is a fast moving one, hence, there will be mistakes and failures. However, your teams need to be comfortable with the notion that they may not succeed and get it right the first time, as long as they’re learning and moving forward.
2. Focus on Failure & Successes
Usually when we’re reviewing our teams’ performance we talk about successes and all the great achievements they’ve had over a duration. That’s all great to earn badges and rewards, however, there’s seldom any learning that you can draw out from successes. Where does the real learning come from? Failures! Make it a point (not just a practice, but a policy) that discussing where employees’ fail is a necessary part of the performance discussion. Build upon it by also focusing on the learnings they extracted from their failures and how future successes were achieved based on these.
3. Build an Extraordinary Team
One of the best ways to quickly develop new strategies on pressing challenges is to create a team of talented individuals from diverse areas of the company. This team isn’t your standard R&D function or your executive team. They’re known as skunkworks teams – a group of talented individuals who work on unusual projects. Their scope is simply to think beyond the norm and beyond the company’s current capabilities to develop strategies that can help the company in the future. It’s a big outrageous challenge that you’ll set them up for.
4. Reduce Friction
There are two forms of friction that are commonly found in companies. One is the friction amongst teams that kills collaboration; the other is friction that keeps communication slow. Both forms of friction are hurdles to the fast-paced culture you’re aiming to develop. What you need is a fast moving, highly engaged and deeply connected workforce. Teams that communicate freely, openly and cross-functionally. Information sharing is the norm you’re building towards.
To build a company that’s going to survive and succeed in the exponential age you need to drop traditional ways of doing business and focus on agility and speed. Your competitors are relentlessly looking to eat up your market share and eliminate you from the industry. It’s your choice whether you want to stick to traditional scalability or refocus your energy towards agility.