CIOs and CMOs who successfully position their teams as customer experience drivers and digital transformers are successfully accelerating their investments with agility. In many of these same firms, however, they often face challenges from other business units who don’t see agile methods fitting their business processes. Pushing for agility with them doesn’t prove successful. Keeping pace with customers and changing markets requires not only faster tech teams but also faster work by every department, employee, and partner in product innovation or process improvement.

The better approach is to help your C-suite peers see the importance of accelerating your company’s customer response speed and that they should determine what methodologies best enable their support of your company’s shift to being an adaptive enterprise from their business unit. Each department has its own language, imperatives, and role within business innovation and will interpret the need for speedy action in its own way. What’s missing in most of the organizations we studied is a top-down imperative to find ways of acting faster in collaboration with other departments. Such an imperative would prompt leaders in HR, finance, and other departments to search for a philosophy, practices, and tools that support faster action. A good example is finance. Very few CFOs see agility being applicable to their revenue tracking systems. What works better for them is to accommodate net-new business models and track the shifts in customer adoption of them.

We define enterprise speed as:

The ability to marshal resources across the organization to quickly identify, create, and bring to market innovations in products, organizational structures, and business models.

Speedy action across teams is essential to becoming an adaptive enterprise. But in our executive surveys, we find that speedy action is rarely a CEO priority. We also find low executive awareness of how departments that are misaligned on speed goals slow business innovations and improvements.

The Three Characteristics Of Adaptive Enterprises
(Enterprise Speed: The Key To Being Adaptive)

Enterprise speed flows from a culture that values constant experimentation and constant questioning of norms and assumptions. Such cultures attract people eager to learn and comfortable with change. But there’s more: The culture must reward not only new ideas and prototypes but also quick implementation of those ideas in new or changed software, new operating policies and practices, and even new staff.

Big teams require too much coordination to work fast, and single-department teams hit speed barriers if they need other departments to progress. The fastest model for overcoming these issues is Amazon’s famous two-pizza teams: small cross-functional teams that streamline communications among members and align to business goals.

Two-Pizza Teams

(Amazon Culture of Innovation)

If your organization is struggling to achieve enterprise speed, read the latest report by me and my long-time colleague, John Rymer, where we share the speed-accomplishment best practices, achievement case studies, and more.