Does everything feel like it is moving too slow in your organization, including growth? Does it feel like you need to ask and answer every question to get momentum and get stuff done?
Over the past 25+ years and 11,000+ conversations, here are some of the most common comments I hear in fast-growth companies:
These comments point to some “sand in the gears,” getting in the way of achieving your goals. “Sand in the gears” is about what it feels like as a leader.
I once had a bike with messed up gears. I’d shift gears and nothing happened. I’d try to go fast, but the bike stayed in a lower gear. I’d shift gears and it’d take several minutes of pedaling for the gears to finally catch. Sometimes the chain would just fall right off.
I always got to my destination, but it was a lot more complicated than it needed to be. I was frustrated; it took longer, my hands (and clothes) got stained. It wasn’t ideal by any definition.
It’s the same way in many organizations I get the chance to invest in and work alongside. The businesses get where they need to go, but they could go a lot farther a lot faster. I’ve created a simple framework to think about your business when it comes to the proverbial sand in the gears: the Velocity Vector:
Promises + Goals: Where it all starts
Every leader starts on their journey by making promises and setting goals. You make (either implicitly or explicitly) promises to yourself, your family, investors, employees, customers, and vendors. Then, you set out on a journey to keep the promises and the goals
When all is said and done, you either keep those promises or you don’t. I typically help CEOs who feel like they have sands in the gears on their journey. They realize it shouldn’t feel so hard or go so slow. They want someone with experience to come along and provide an objective look at the business. What they are often experiencing are the symptoms of a broken Velocity Vector.
That’s why one of the key trends I listen for when interviewing employees (as part of my upfront process: The Leadership + Growth Assessment) is for clarity.
Are you providing clarity… Or confusion?
It’s the most important part of any leader’s job: providing clarity. Everything you are doing is either providing clarity or propagating confusion. Sometimes, it’s hard to see with the naked eye, but almost everything we do in business is trying to provide clarity. Pressure test this and see if you agree:
- Why do you have a strategy? To provide clarity around what the business is going to do.
- Why do you have job descriptions? To provide clarity about roles and responsibilities.
- Why do you have meetings? To provide clarity about a given topic.
- Why do you have values? To drive clarity on what’s essential to the business.
If these aren’t done well (and many organizations struggle, even though they do some of these activities), it’s a ripe opportunity to unintentionally propagate confusion.
The Velocity Vector: The chain reaction towards success
If you can provide clarity, you’ll naturally have people making more informed decisions. If people are making more informed decisions, you’ll have alignment in the organization. Once you have alignment, it’s off to the races. That’s where decision velocity comes in. If you can reach decision velocity, you will accelerate towards your goals and promises.
What is decision velocity?
Decision velocity is simply the ability of your employees to make the right decision quickly. They don’t need to lobby for buy-in or ask permission from the CEO (or other teams) because everyone is aligned around the business’s goals.
When you have the opposite of decision velocity, it’s like someone running a 10k Race, stopping every 100 yards to see if they are going the right direction, asking if they are running fast enough, if they have the proper form, etc. It sounds ridiculous, but how many businesses have scattered focus and thus scattered results?
What happens when the Velocity Vector breaks?
When the Velocity Vector breaks, the most common reaction is to throw more money (and people) at the problem to keep your promises and goals. If the Velocity Vector never gets fixed, your cost structure easily (and quickly) gets out of whack. Eventually, this results in a RIF (Reduction in Force).
What does the RIF try and do? Get people quickly back to alignment, especially since there are fewer people in the organization.
How to make the Velocity Vector work for you
It’s a lot easier to start thinking about the Velocity Vector from the beginning. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be diving deep into each critical point in the Velocity Vector and what you need to do to work your way up the Vector. Ultimately, it will help you keep your promises and goals. Download the Velocity Vector here.
Make sure you don’t miss these powerful Frameworks + Mindsets by subscribing to my email list here. I’ll also send you the number 1 mindset (you need both the right Frameworks + Mindsets) the most successful leaders use here. I’ll go beyond the theory into proven “how-to” solutions to give you clarity as a leader, helping you accelerate to keep your promises and goals.