以策略性速度執行

Executing With Strategic Speed
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論壇公司執行長艾德.博斯韋爾解釋,為什麼需要先放慢腳步,才能加快速度。

莎拉.葛林:歡迎收看《哈佛商業評論》IdeaCast。我是《哈佛商業評論》莎拉.葛林。今天的來賓是論壇公司執行長暨總裁艾德.博斯韋爾,是《策略速度》一書作者之一。非常感謝你今天加入我們。

艾德.博斯韋爾:我很高興來上節目,莎拉。

莎拉.葛林:這本書的開頭,提出一個令人警醒的統計數字。只有30%的策略行動方案有成功執行。在這方面,速度,或者說缺乏速度,扮演什麼角色?

艾德.博斯韋爾:這本書的重點是要檢視急迫性或速度,與執行之間的交集部分,如何創造了成果。我們發現這個令人警醒的統計數字,儘管過去二十年實施了許多方案,包括流程再造和善用技術,但事實仍是,大多數公司僅有30%的可性能性真正得以實現目標。

再結合另一個事實,也就是速度已日益成為企業維持競爭力的基本條件。愈來愈多企業的競爭差異化,是建立在執行速度有多快之上。所以,我們想檢視速度與執行力的交集之處。看看我們能從中學到什麼。

莎拉.葛林:阻礙執行的障礙有哪些?

艾德.博斯韋爾:確實有幾個障礙。這真的很有趣,因為我們從這項研究得知的一件事…對了,這項研究檢視世界各地的企業,對18個不同組織進行深入的個案研究,對全球超過340位執行長進行意見調查,我們從中發現的一件事就是,欲速則不達。也就是說,你太注重速度了。

其實我們發現,我們樣本中速度較慢的企業都太忙了,無法進行足夠的規畫工作,或溝通說明那項計畫,或無法在執行時退後一步,看看是否需要在途中做調整。他們實在太忙了。這就是過度關注節奏和速度。這是一個陷阱。另一個陷阱是,很多企業認為只需要重新設計流程。讓事情變得簡單,精簡事情,引進一些新技術。同樣地,我們發現這在一定程度上有助益。所有這些情況當中,缺少的成分是人的因素。

莎拉.葛林:讓我們多談一點人的因素。這個因素要做到什麼?

艾德.博斯韋爾:我們發現基本上要做三件事。你只需要擔心三件事。其中之一,是確保組織清楚說明要前進的方向。讓大家都了解這個新策略的關鍵,或是這個方案真正想實現的目標。

第二件事是團結。就是每個人都全心致力實現這些目標,共同努力達成這個結果。然後第三件事很有趣,是敏捷。組織具備彈性去微調、調整、甚至改變策略計畫,只要情況需要這麼做。這三件事就是清晰、統一、敏捷。這三項人的因素,再結合對節奏和流程的關注,會讓你達到策略性速度。

莎拉.葛林:能不能舉例說明,你曾在哪裡看到這些最佳實務?

艾德.博斯韋爾:當然可以,書中有很多很好的例子。其中讓我印象最深刻的是沃達豐。沃達豐是全球最大行動通訊業者之一,總部位於倫敦。我們有機會訪談了執行長維多瑞歐.柯拉歐。他以速度聞名。我們真的很想問他,你如何帶動這個龐大的組織,這家公司幾乎在全球每個國家營運,透過收購而成長得非常非常快。

它實際上不是一家整合的公司,而是由很多小公司組成,都在沃達豐的旗下。他對我說,這其實會導致速度緩慢。因為要讓很多人參與,諸如此類的事情,要和很多人溝通。但他們建立的名聲是,做事真的非常迅速。他的秘訣基本上是:保持非常精簡。他創造了當責制。

他會說,莎拉,我希望你去創建這個事業。他說在一般情況下,如果你在任何其他組織這樣說,莎拉轉身離開之後心裡明白,這個任務真的很重要,我最好不要搞砸。當你說出這句簡單的話,我不想把它搞砸,往往就會行動緩慢。你往往會非常謹慎。你逐步漸進地推動事情。你不會採取任何大膽的行動。你不會快速執行或加速推動。

所以他對高階主管的說法是,莎拉,我希望你為我創建這個事業。我希望你能快速進行。我希望你在明年內完成。我知道你會犯錯,這沒關係。我不會因為你在未來一年內犯錯而開除你。如果我開除你,會是因為你一再犯同樣的錯誤。但相信我,我會全力支持你。

另一件事情是,如果你激怒組織裡的一些人,只因為你想實現這個遠大的目標,那就讓他們打電話給我。我會處理。他說,這麼做結合了以下幾項元素:清楚說明要達成的結果,明確的時間範圍,明確的責任。但也要提供信任,也就是你不會因犯錯而被開除。如果其他人來抱怨,我會為你撐腰。

莎拉.葛林:我們現在談到慢相對於快的問題,我想回顧你之前說過的話。有時候,專注在速度其實會導致問題。這讓我想起了一句話,我認為是軍事用語,慢就是流暢,流暢就是快。在你研究的企業中,是否發現踩油門加速或故意加速,其實反而造成更多問題?

艾德.博斯韋爾:確實如此。其實,我們在與其他人分享這項研究成果時,會向他們展示許多特性,十個特性。我們會問,你們有多少人表現出這些特性?有一些做法,像是快速行動,真的踩油門加速。很多人都會舉手說,是的,我們做了所有這些事情,以為這些都是好事。

其實,所有這些特性都常見於行動緩慢的企業。這真的非常非常有趣。這幾乎就像是你必須放慢腳步,才能加速。有趣的是,這不只是主管說些好聽話而已。我們檢視企業的財務結果、財務績效,包括快速企業與慢速企業的。結果發現,在我們的樣本中,採取這些有關清晰、統一和敏捷的所有最佳實務的企業,往往有更高的銷售額。大約高出40%。營業利益約高出52%。因此,為了走得快而放慢腳步的企業,反而享有更好的財務績效。

莎拉.葛林:這很有趣。我想再多了解,要如何把這個概念傳達給個別企業。我們談到,個別領導人可對直屬部屬說一些話,像是全力支持他們。但你在書中也談到管理「氣候」。我想談談這個主題,因為我認為,這對每個觀眾可能都不是熟悉的挑戰。你所謂的管理氣候是指什麼,該怎麼做?

艾德.博斯韋爾:好,我們認為有四種領導實務,可以創造清晰、統一和敏捷。其中一個是要肯定策略。第二個是推動方案。第三個是要培養經驗。第四個是管理氣候。你的一些觀眾可能熟悉氣候,我們當然不是在談外面的天氣。

這是要用可衡量的方式,來檢視在特定工作場所裡工作的感覺如何。它的特點是有一些非常明確的層面。例如,人們了解得多清楚?是否有高度的團隊合作?是否有高標準?人們是否覺得負有責任?人們是否因表現出色,而得到表彰和獎勵?所有這些事項,構成了我們對氣候的感覺,或對氣候的看法。結果我們發現,氣候愈好,組織的行動就愈快,你快速執行的可能性就愈高。

莎拉.葛林:你是否發現一些常見的阻礙,妨礙了企業去管理氣候?有哪些常見的問題,是人們該特別注意的?

艾德.博斯韋爾:其中有一個問題我們常看到,那就是沒有清楚的當責或責任劃分。每個人都知道必須完成某件事,但沒有人真正知道誰在做這件事。因此應該要清楚指定責任,然後再結合高標準,也就是你期望的績效或產出水準,這就是真正的成功組合。

莎拉.葛林:博斯韋爾,非常感謝你來上節目。

艾德.博斯韋爾:謝謝你,莎拉。

莎拉.葛林:這是我們今天的嘉賓艾德.博斯韋爾,論壇公司的執行長,《策略速度》的共同作者。更多資訊請造訪hbr.org。


Sarah Green: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast. From Harvard Business Review, I'm Sarah Green. I'm here today with Ed Boswell, CEO and president of The Forum Corporation and co-author of Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Ed Boswell: Sure, it's great to be here, Sarah.

Sarah Green: Now you start the book with a pretty sobering statistic. Only 30% of strategic initiatives are successfully executed. What role does speed, or maybe the lack of it, play?

Ed Boswell: Well the whole point of the book was to really look at this intersection of where urgency, or speed, intersects with execution in getting results. And what we found is that sobering statistic that regardless of all the initiatives over the past 20 years to reengineer processes, leverage technology, the fact remains that most companies are still only 30% likely to actually achieve.

And you mix that, or combine that, with the fact that speed is becoming more and more just table stakes for companies to remain competitive. More and more companies are actually basing their competitive differentiation on how quickly they can execute. So we wanted to look at this intersection of speed, on the one hand and execution on the other. And see what we could learn about that.

Sarah Green: So what are some of the barriers that get in the way of executing?

Ed Boswell: Well there are a couple of barriers. And it was really interesting because one of the things that we learned in this research -- and we looked at companies all around the world, we did in depth case studies of 18 different organizations, and we surveyed over 340 chief to executives around the world -- and one of the things we found is that sometimes you go slow because you're trying to go too fast. That is, you pay too much attention to pace.

In fact, one of the things we found it the slower companies in our sample were companies that, in fact, were way too busy to ever really do an adequate job planning, or communicating that plan, or maybe taking a step back while they were executing to see if they needed to make any midcourse adjustments. They were just too busy. So there was this over attention to pace and to speed. That's one trap. Another trap is a lot of companies think that all you need to do is reengineer processes. Make things simple, streamline things, bring in some new technology. And again, we found it that's helpful up to a point. The missing ingredient in all of these situations was the people factor.

Sarah Green: Well let's talk a little bit more than about the people factor. What needs to happen there?

Ed Boswell: Well we discovered there are basically three things. There are only three things that you need to worry about. One of them is ensuring that the organization has clarity about the direction that you're going. So there's a shared understanding of what this new strategy is all about. Or what this initiative is really trying to accomplish.

The second thing is unity. And that is everyone is wholeheartedly committed to achieving those goals and working together to achieve that outcome. And then the third piece, interesting enough, is agility. The flexibility of the organization to fine-tune, tweak, or even change, the strategic plan if conditions require that. So it's clarity, it's unity, and agility. Those three people factors combined with an attention to pace, combined with an attention to process, leads you to strategic speed.

Sarah Green: Can we maybe get into an example of where you see some of these best practices happening?

Ed Boswell: Sure, well there are a lot of great examples in the book. One of the ones that I was most impressed with his Vodafone. Now Vodafone is the world's largest mobile cell phone carrier around. And they're based in London. And we had the chance to interview the CEO, Vittorio Colao. And he's known for Speed. So we were really interested in understanding, so how do you take this behemoth of an organization – I mean they operate in virtually every country around the world -- and they've grown very, very quickly through acquisitions.

So it's actually not one integrated company, it's a lot of little companies all under the Vodafone umbrella. And he was saying to me that that's really a recipe for a slowness. Because there are just so many people to bring on board and that sort of thing, and to communicate with. And yet, they have a reputation for doing things really, really quickly. And his secret is basically this: that he keeps it really, really simple. And he creates an accountability.

So he would say, Sarah, I want you to go create this business. And he said now ordinarily if you if you do that in any other organization, Sarah would go off and she would know, boy this is really, really important, so I better not screw it up. And so when you say that little word, I don't want to screw it up, you tend to go slow. You tend to be very cautious. You're doing things in increments. You're not doing anything bold. You're not doing anything fast, or speedy.

So what he tells his executives is he says Sarah, I want you to create this business for me. I want you to do it really fast. I'd like you do it within the next year. I know you're going to make mistakes. And that's OK. I will not fire you for making mistakes over the next year. I will fire your if you keep making the same mistake over and over again. But trust me, I'll cover your back.

The other thing is you ruffle some feathers in the organization as you try to achieve this ambitious goal, just have people call me. And I'll take care of everything. So he said that it was a combination of being really clear on the outcome. Being clear on the time frame. Being clear on what accountability. But also providing that trust that you're not going to get fired for making mistakes. And I'll cover your back if other people come and complain.

Sarah Green: Now as we're talking here about sort of slow versus fast, as I want to look back something you said earlier. Which is sometimes focusing on pace can actually cause problems. That reminded me of –I think it's a military saying -- that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Did you find that in companies that you researched sort of stepping on the gas, or intentionally trying to speed up has actually caused more problems?

Ed Boswell: Well it actually has. In fact, we often with audiences where we share this research, we show them a number of characteristics, 10 characteristics. And we ask how many of you exhibit these characteristics? And there are practices, such as going fast, really putting your foot down on the accelerator. So a lot of people raised their hand and say, yep we do all these things. thinking that these are the good things to do.

Actually, all those characteristics were common to the slow companies. So it's very, very interesting. It's almost like you need to go slow in order to go fast. And the interesting thing, this isn't just a nice bit of management speak. We looked at the financial results, the financial performance, of fast companies versus slow companies. And it turns out that the companies in our sample that do all these best practices around clarity, around unity, and agility, tend to have much higher sales. About 40% higher. And about 52% higher operating profits. So the companies that go slow in order to go fast enjoy much better financial performance.

Sarah Green: That's interesting. And I want a little bit more about how to get that to individual companies. We talked about something that individual leaders can say to their reports sort of get their back. But you talk also in the book about managing climate. And I want to get into that, because I think that's something that may sound familiar as a challenge to everyone watching. What do you mean my managing climate, and what has to happen there?

Ed Boswell: Sure, well there are four leadership practices that we think create clarity, unity, and agility. So one of them is about affirming strategies. Another is around driving initiatives. Another is around cultivating experience. And fourth is around managing climate. And so for your viewers, some of whom might be familiar with climate, we're certainly not talking about that weather outside.

It's the measurable perception of what it's like to work in a particular workplace. And it's characterized by some very clear-cut dimensions. Like how clear are people? Is there a high degree of teamwork? Are there high standards? Do people feel accountable? Are people recognized and rewarded for good performance? These are all the things that make up we feel, or how we perceive, about a climate. And it turns out that we found out that the better the climate is, the faster the organization is, the higher the odds are that you actually can execute with speed.

Sarah Green: Is there any sort of common blockers that you've found in managing climate? Any kind of common problems that people should be especially on the lookout for?

Ed Boswell: Well one of the ones that we see a lot is that there's not clear lines of accountability or responsibility. So everyone know something has to get done, but no one knows really who's on point for that. And so just being clear about that responsibility, and then combining that with high standards, of the level of performance or output that you're expecting that's a really winning in combination.

Sarah Green: ED Boswell, thanks so much for joining us today.

Ed Boswell: Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Green: That's was Ed Boswell, CEO of the Forum Corporation and author of Strategic Speed. For more, go to hbr.org.



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