Business opportunities often go unexploited because companies and their leaders are not in a position to decide and act quickly. I’ve written about this in my book Brilliant Manoeuvres, but here is a quick list you can use as an aide-mémoire or to evaluate your own capacity for speed.

  1. You need the resolve to decide and act quickly.
  2. Your assessment of the business environment, opportunities and threats must be realistic and up-to-date.
  3. Your entire team must have a common understanding of goals and mission to be on the same page.
  4. Your strategy and operational systems must provide a framework for assessing the relevance of information.
  5. You must empower key individuals in your team to decide and act quickly in the face of opportunities, so they don’t have to slow down to consult the boss.
  6. You must accept risk, that means some things won’t work, but also that people will inevitably make mistakes. The trick is to recognize these quickly and have effective risk containment measures in place.
  7. You need standard decision processes, so that everyone knows who does what, when, and with what resources.
  8. You require common operational systems to ensure efficiency and effectiveness when speed is of the essence.
  9. Predetermined routines for information gathering and assessing are also required.
  10. You need contingency plans to cater for the unforeseen opportunities and threats so you can start with a skeletal plan.

A final point is to move when even if you have incomplete information or your plans are not perfect. Speed can make up for these deficiencies, especially if you’ve put in place the 10 principles mentioned above. This is nothing but the 80/20 rule applied to decision-making and action.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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