The business world constantly evolves, and companies must adapt to stay competitive. We need to work smarter and with a curiosity that helps us look beyond the obvious and go ‘below the surface’ to identify both potential ‘tripping ‘hazards, but also hidden opportunities (think gold mining!)
Digging deep and going beyond the symptoms of an issue creates an opportunity to identify quick wins. Delivering quick wins is a great way to boost morale and motivation. When employees see that their efforts are making a difference, they are more likely to stay engaged and productive.
Quick wins are great, but it’s essential to balance looking ahead (strategy) and focusing on the now (quick wins). Building quick wins into the strategy and not treating them as a random, ad hoc activity is a great way to win at every level.
Everyone wants to play for the winning team, and there’s nothing like the buzz created by a win – quick or not so quick; here are five reasons to LOVE a quick win from Intrafocus Academy – The Importance of Quick Wins.
- Quick wins boost morale and momentum – Long-term goals can feel a long way off when stuck in the daily grind. When people think they contribute to a positive outcome and see the fruits of their labour, they are more likely to stay engaged.
- Quick wins signal success to stakeholders – Stakeholders love to see evidence that a strategy is working and that the management team is sound.
- Quick wins help to encourage talent into the business –Great employees are attracted to successful, thriving and positive organisations.
- Quick wins support a great culture- Build a thriving, buzzing culture with a regular cycle of quick wins – communicate the successes and celebrate them with the people in your business.
- Quick wins build trust – When implementing a new strategy, especially one that requires significant change, leaders must win the people’s confidence in their business. Sharing and celebrating quick wins together helps gain buy-in and builds trust.
We all want a quick win – how do we make them happen?
As mentioned earlier, the key to successfully delivering quick wins is to accurately identify where opportunities lie and then prioritise solutions to deliver the results. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees, so we need to get out our shovels, clear away the moss and fallen leaves to expose the root, and then trace down till we come to the source.
Once we arrive at the source and understand the root cause, we can get creative with solutions; sometimes, these will deliver a win quickly, and other times it’ll be a long-term gain. But either way – identifying the real cause of an issue will save time and money by not running around patching up symptoms. That sounds like a win to me!
Identify The Root Cause
There are various tools to help with the preliminary analysis when identifying root causes, including:
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Compares the gap between the ideal state of how your business needs to operate to win in the marketplace and how you operate today.
Value, Rarity, Imitability (ease/difficulty to imitate), Organisation (ability to exploit) –
assesses your organisation’s resources to ascertain its potential competitive advantage.
Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal.
Porter’s Five Competitive Forces
Competitive rivalry, supplier power, buyer power, substitution threat, new entry threat.
Focus On Prioritising Issues and Opportunities
Focus on identifying the priority issues and opportunities that will have the biggest impact on your success in the market. No organisation has the resources (money or people) to address every issue or opportunity, meaning that tough choices and clear decisions are required before jumping to solution mode.
This exercise must look at what’s in the best interests of the whole organisation, not just at a business unit or functional level. Remember that this is not a democracy where everyone gets a vote, or splitting things up evenly works. The focus needs to remain on addressing those things that will have the most significant impact on achieving your goals and gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage.
You don’t need to overcomplicate this analysis. If you have the right people in the room working together, the following simple prioritisation tool will show where the focus should be.
The ‘value versus difficulty prioritisation matrix’ adapts the Eisenhower Principle,
which helps prioritise by urgency and importance. The Eisenhower Principle matrix was developed by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was in charge of the Allied Forces landing at Normandy on D-Day during the Second World War and who had to make some very tough decisions.
There is more detail on this prioritisation tool in our book, Strategisation. Essentially, it runs across two axis – the vertical axis shows ‘ Value to the business ‘ expressed in financial and non-financial terms; for example, brand strength, risk avoidance, and address a competitive threat. The horizontal axis shows ‘Ease/Capability/Capacity to implement successfully’, which includes your internal capability vs. competition, human resources, complexity and cost.
Use this framework to get everyone to give their perspective on each issue. It’s important to tease out similarities and differences across the group, make the tough choices and align on those issues and opportunities that will give your organisation a competitive advantage and help win in the marketplace. Use this as the basis for prioritisation, with the high-value and easy-to-address issues ranking highest. This isn’t about creating a wish list. Focus on what you can achieve over the period you need to prioritise resources.
This process will help identify quick wins, align the in your organisation, and expose any bottlenecks.
A bottleneck is a point in a process or system where the workflow is slowed down or blocked due to a constraint, such as a limited resource or an inefficient process. A classic example of a bottleneck from my executive life was managing each brand manager’s desire to launch new products constantly. An admirable character trait, but not so much fun for their research and development colleagues who had limited resources to devote to all these ‘ideas’! Additionally, we didn’t have the marketing budget required to drive awareness, trial and repeat. There were many opportunities and great ideas, but if we didn’t prioritise, nothing would ever launch effectively.
By identifying bottlenecks, you can focus on improving the areas of the process or system that have the greatest impact on overall performance, leading to significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
For example, if a particular process is consistently causing bottlenecks, you may need to consider redesigning the process or investing in additional resources to prevent future issues. In the example above, we subsequently reviewed our NPD process to better align with the business strategy, reduce the R&D bottlenecks and focus funding.
Clearing bottlenecks can also be regarded as a quick win when resources are freed up for other uses! In the case of NPD, it allowed us to get to market quicker and put more money behind bigger bets.
Working Smarter doesn’t have to be Complicataed.
Our method of decluttering our business differs slightly from Marie Condo but is just as straightforward and effective. You simply KISS your way through the jumble!
You can apply the KISS approach to various aspects of your business – anywhere you want to take a quick look at the current ‘usefulness’, will you give them the KISS of life or the KISS of death? For example, at Bicycles for Humanity, we knew we were wasting our limited volunteer resources on picking up bikes for recycling from individual households. We are giving that service the quick KISS of death and encouraging people to help us by making a trip to drop them off at our central local partners (rather than to the tip!).
KISS stands for
KEEP: Does it add value? Does it work?
IMPROVE: Can it add more value? Work more efficiently?
STOP: Has it stopped adding value? Does it no longer work? Does it stop us from doing something else?
START: What can we start doing to assist in delivering results? If it sounds simple, it’s coz it is!
Here too, you may discover some unexpected quick wins by identifying activities to STOP and being able to redirect resources into other, more lucrative areas/projects!
In conclusion, prioritising solutions with quick results is a crucial strategy for driving business success. By focusing on quick wins, businesses can boost morale, build momentum, and respond to changes in the market. A company must be strategic, willing to take risks, and led by individuals who value innovation and experimentation. By adopting these strategies, organisations can stay competitive in an ever-changing business world.
For more information or to buy our book visit our website www.strategisation.com.au