Speed: An Elementary Particle of Business

While I don’t think he has discovered anything new about the importance of accelerating business decisions, John Chambers, Cisco CEO, has a fantastic ability to zero in on important concepts and trends and draw the business community’s attention to them.  This week’s Global CIO Blog on InformationWeek.com writes:

If you think Cisco’s been aggressive with acquisitions and product launches in the past, you’d better tighten your shoelaces because John Chambers says the company’s new management structure has slashed decision-making times by more than 90%.

Chambers’ new management structure is a great lesson for all of us.  The decentralized approach he speaks of includes a variety of boards and management styles that not only speed decision making but also improves it.  Extending beyond its internal operations, Cisco reaches out to customers and the partner community to participate in this decentralized approach.  Several of us here at World Wide Technology participate in many of Cisco’s groups from partner advisory boards to partner marketing councils.

Whether it’s designing faster networking products, making internal decisions or improving customer service, speed is a metric and useful lens through which we can view business processes.  Speed is an “elementary particle” or universal variable that is measurable for any given business process and increasing the velocity of business processes seems to be an indisputable goal.

Not losing sight that another “elementary particle” (I’m a big fan of Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos) is identifying and working on the “right things” or the day-to-day business activities more normally defined as “work.”  We certainly don’t want to be accelerating the wrong processes or “work” but for the most part, I’ve never heard a customer or partner complain that we answered the phone too quickly, didn’t make them wait long enough in the lobby 0r processed their order too fast.

With the rare but notable exceptions of golf, cricket and baseball (although MLB has implemented some rules to speed-up the game because of teams like the Yankees and Red Sox) most sports have a game clock.  The game clock provides a set time frame for measuring speed and providing the backdrop for nearly every measurement or statistic.  In an organization, the ultimate game clock is called “The Fiscal Year.”  A business’ game clock is divided into well known quarters, months, weeks and days in which businesses keep detailed stats on revenues, expenses and another “elementary particle” profit, or more specifically, the speed at which we can generate profits.

John Chambers’ focus on speed and accelerated decision making should be a business imperative for all of us.  This concludes my posts for this week which, by the way, is two more than I did last week and lifts my BAD (Blogging Average per Day) to .232!

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