How Do You Measure Speed? With a Watch or Calendar?

How do you measure speed? With a Watch or a Calendar?

How many times have you been in a meeting with a customer and they ask for something and you see your team looking at their calendars? They are looking at dates but the customer is expecting an answer in hours.

How many times last week did you ask your team for something and they responded to you with dates a few weeks in the future when you were expecting times today that they would have the material to you?

Friends, consumer expectations have changed forever. And if you are not changing too you will be history.

Consumers Measure Speed within Hours, Not Days

The way we think and talk about getting work done must match the consumer expectations and they are getting more demanding everyday.

Amazon is re-setting all of our expectations--daily--on when we can expect to get a delivery of products, where we can get them, and exactly what time to expect them. To align with these moving expectations organizations must dramatically change the way they work. Processes that take months and sometimes years must be re-tooled an re-visited, today. Processes that have built in loops for double and triple checking for errors on the simplest of processes must be stopped.

Many companies have built their brands and products based on long lead times to get the most scale and efficiencies out of their process. They were probably built in the 1990’s when Wal-Mart was adding new stores and growing comp store sales double digit. It was a beautiful thing, and lots of companies made tons of money. Then they took those ideas and scaled them across all their other brick and mortar customers.

From that point until now, many companies are still trying to make that process work for the right now world with new consumers. News flash – it will not.

Speeding Up the Process

The work and resources that used to be done on the back end of getting product to market in the most efficient way must be re-deployed to testing new solutions, getting them out the door fast, fixing them if you can, dumping them if they fall short of expectations, and then moving forward again.

I hear Executives each week complain that they can’t make money at Amazon, it costs too much to build the supply chain, they don’t understand how marketing works, and they can’t show a return on their investment in this calendar year. They will wait until there is enough scale to make it work. They keep kicking the can down the road and are not making the decision. And the leader is letting this happen.

Guess what? Those questions that leaders are asking about Amazon today are many of the same questions we were asking about Wal-Mart in the 1990’s.

As Wal-Mart grew bigger they added requirements for the supply chain, I/T systems, merchandising support, pricing based on volume, and scores more. These were all uncomfortable questions, but the great leaders saw this as a massive growth opportunity and started figuring it all out. And when they did, their margins and revenue grew for years and years. Then these leaders figured out how to take the best of those ideas to more customers and their total business grew.

Today, many companies are looking at Amazon, click and collect, and other direct to consumer models and are grumbling about what to do. The answer is get moving. You are going to make mistakes, that’s a given. Trust yourself to learn quickly, shift gears and get to better solutions quickly.

Perfection, having all the answers, re-visiting the same decisions, and doing the things the way they have always been done with the same people with the same skill sets will take you to the same place you have been before. The problem with that is consumers have changed their expectations for speed, quality and price and they will quickly move to a another solution if yours does not align with their expectations.

Your consumers are measuring you with a watch, not a calendar.

Wayne StricklandComment