Global OD-Lesson Fourteen: When speed is strategy, what does that mean for a Global OD practitioner

In many industries, a key component of strategy is speed.
When speed is strategy, quality and cost are secondary considerations; getting to the market fast takes priority. This is illustrated humorous in Gloria Ramsbottom’s Immature Product Division; their next release is sold and installed before it is developed!
When speed is strategy, communication needs to be open, transparent and expedient between people of different nationalities. There is limited time for face saving if needed, scarce time to build relationships between people with very different values.
What type of organizations can move quickly? Well, it appear that “size” counts (start-ups), the tolerance for risk counts (risk aversive cultures move slowly), and homogeneity of the culture assists greatly because there are less communication obstacles.
Yet, often large very diverse and heterogeneous global organizations need to move quickly.
In such cases, the challenge for the global OD practitioner is enormous, since speed as a major component of strategy is enabled by of the behaviours promulgated by western OD: risk taking in a safe environment, decision making on-the-fly as per situational need, trade-off between process and teamwork, surfacing bad news without loss of face, empowerment of the individual to take initiatives.
In further posts, we will examine how a global OD practitioner can deal with a diverse and large work force, when speed is strategy, without becoming a cultural imperialist.

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4 thoughts on “Global OD-Lesson Fourteen: When speed is strategy, what does that mean for a Global OD practitioner

  1. Allon,

    What a powerful and important insight/viewpoint!

    I offer that another essential ingredient is trust. Speed requires moving thru many frames (of activity); each frame requiring time to surpass its threshold. Lack of trust creates slow-down in that meeting threshold process – sometimes never meeting that threshold.

    I look forward to your future postings on this subject, Allon. This is indeed a very worthy topic.

    with love,

    Drive On!

  2. There is a corny old consultants’ two by two matrix that I find surprisingly useful in strategy discussions on this. Basically, to divide “the Game” across the top as Same game/New game; and to divide the nature of competitive advantage down the side as Preemptive/Hustle. Hustle = where speed is strategy.

    Then the challenges in the four boxes fall out like this.

    Same game/Preemptive (top left box) challenge is to pl;ay the game well (classic game theory)

    New game/Preemptive (top right box) challenge is to be first to figure out the “rules” of the new game, then play it well

    Hustle/Same game (bottom left box) challenge is continuous superb front-line execution (no sustainable competitive advantage)

    Hustle/New game (bottom right box) challenge is to build a network of teams and encourage widespread experimentation (no competitive advantage beyond well-diversified portfolio of risks and rapid uptake of opportunities).

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