Speed, Bees and Gifts

How speed in production, strategy and mobilisation can benefit your business.

In the book Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution, the authors claim that companies need to focus on people factors to execute strategy faster and more effectively. In their research they found that in companies that work faster, where strategic speed means urgency that meets execution, the emphasis is on alignment, flexibility, openness, innovative thinking, and taking time to reflect. The reward is that the faster companies had a 40% higher sales growth and 50% higher operating profit than the slower companies.

Technology and bees

Efficient processes and technologies are helpful to speed and they can definitely add value. However, without attention to people factors, no matter what technologies and processes are put into place, they are doomed to failure. Lewis Thomas, the eminent biologist, once observed, “If you want a bee to make honey, you do not issue protocols on solar navigation or carbohydrate chemistry; you put him together with other bees.”

Nobodies from nowhere

That putting together can be found within social media. Social media has changed the way businesses market themselves online. It has contributed greatly to a company’s potential speed of strategic thought and execution, rapidly increasing the opportunities for depth and breadth of dialogue with its consumers. According to Guy Kawasaki, the internet guru, the power has shifted from companies pushing a marketing message to dialogue between “nobodies from nowhere”. These people are voicing their opinions on Facebook, through Twitter, and on YouTube. This is not passive posting, this is a demand to be heard. The Arab Spring is but one example of such a demand, complaints posted about an inferior product or service is another, rating a hotel stay yet another.

Friend not salesman

What is apparent is that people are not only voicing opinions but are seeking content that they need; content of depth that starts a rich dialogue, a conversation that informs, stimulates and entertains. In his book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, Michael Stelzner recommends that when engaging with brands, people are not looking for crude selling messages. He believes that what is more effective is: a highly informed article; a case study that leads to greater understanding; a report that provides real insight; compelling contests; a link to sites of relevant interest; in fact, anything of merit that gets people to come back to your website.

A gift that is shared

This consistent provision of great and relevant content, builds trust over timeand the huge benefit of this will be that people will receive your content as a gift and share it widely. The secret is to not over play the commercial content. Great blogs and articles are constructed so that the author is viewed as a friend not a pushy salesman. Effective social media is an enabler for people to gain greater understanding, to be entertained and to connect with others. It also provides a channel, for those responsible for the brand, to listen and reflect on the views that are expressed from both inside and outside of the company. In doing so they will be able to navigate the brand closer to customer needs and aspirations.

Making honey

So, speed helps companies to mobilize people and accelerate strategic action. It also helps them connect more frequently and more meaningfully with their consumers, giving them the gift of topically relevant and compelling content, and enabling networks to form around the brand. Like bees, people, put together who have common interests, can make an attractive and life sustaining end product for a brand. Social media is no longer an optional extra but a brand enhancing priori.
Garry Titterton Intelligent Positioning Ltd. 16-08-2011