Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Why Speed Wins In Today’s Marketplace

Speed. Real speed. Without it today, you’re dead in the water. Consumers are not stagnant. They advance, morph and change faster than ever before. Technology advances at the blink of an eye. Everything is happening faster.

Speed Wins

You can have the best strategy, the best team, the best product, but timing, yeah timing, that’s the tough part. Bob Davis the founder of Lycos often said

Speed Is Life

In Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to Wall Street, he evolved on that phrase with this breathtaking passage

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Unfortunately, that maxim is lost on the majority of large legacy brands and organizations. In today’s marketplace there’s an uneasiness and tension in those organizations. Moving fast isn’t often in the DNA of those organizations. What feels like fast to them is still slow for today’s marketplace.

So why can’t brands get wired for speed? I think it comes down to three key elements:

  1. The Double Down On Today Dilemma: It’s easy to talk about “results” and “ROI.” While important, they also offer a great defense for changing. I’ve often said, there’s no value in doubling down on today at the expense of tomorrow. It’s easy to focus on today. Today, really means yesterday. The fact, econometric marketing mix models are still in use, is a testament that it’s easier to focus on looking back than looking forward. Those models are based on historical data and therefore favor TV and print, which have significantly more historical data than digital, social and mobile.
  2. The Emphasis On Safe, Secure and Right: There are 2 organizations that should never lead social “marketing” in your organization: Legal and Corporate Communications. Legal’s role is to protect the organization. In a perfect world, you’d never do any marketing. That would make their life a lot easier. Corporate Communication’s focus is on message management. In a ever changing dynamic digital world, you can’t expect to, nor should you want to manage the message. Today’s marketplace is messy. Things can’t be planned out months in advance. Disruption is the norm. But, if you’re focus is always on Safe, Secure and Right, you’ll never move quick enough.
  3. You’re Just Not Wired For Speed: Organizations are built on silos, divisions, departments and teams. Each one of them has a set of objectives, strategies, tactics and KPIs. In theory, they’re supposed to all ladder up to a broader set of organizational objectives. In practices, it’s often a set of mini fiefdoms. Speed comes from wiring. A great “digital” org isn’t built vertically. It’s built horizontally, by leveraging resources across an entire organization. That’s easy to do when there’s 1 single common mission. It’s very challenging when there’s so many competing agendas.

Make no mistake, this isn’t easy. If it was, there’d be case studies that go beyond the typical cast of characters: Red Bull, JetBlue, Starbucks, Zappos, Oreo and Audi. But, also make no mistake, if you’re organization is built with “results” as the end game where experimentation that leads to failure is punished, you’ll never acquire the speed you need to stay competitive in today’s marketplace.