The American Revolution pitted a powerful, well-organized army against a ragtag militia. Had the American militia lined up in formation like the British, the Revolution would have failed. The British were well-trained and disciplined. The American militia was comprised of farmers, bankers, and ordinary people.
To win battles, the Americans used quick-strike guerrilla tactics and avoided all-out confrontations. This same battle is happening today across the business landscape. Large, well-trained, and disciplined corporations are losing market share to quick-striking start-ups. Large corporations should take a page from the history books and apply these methods.
The biggest advantage a quick-strike tactic has is that large corporations can’t predict where the attack will originate. In order to combat and protect market share, large businesses have to move quickly as well. While sales and marketing teams at larger organizations are beginning to realize this need to quickly address new threats, the organization as a whole isn’t built for speed. The support infrastructure isn’t built for speed. Changes to a web page can take six to eight weeks because of strict governance and editorial processes.
When there’s a risk to market share the marketing team has been tasked with addressing, leadership has to do more than dictate that the team just act. Lines of business have to be given resources to act quickly. This means IT will need to find ways to reduce barriers to speed, such as complicated governance structures. Reducing governance is a risk, yes, but responding too late to an attack on market share is a bigger risk.
Stop What Slows You Down
It’s not enough to decide to move quickly; you also have to identify and remove those things that slow you down. Continuing to operate in a sustain/maintain environment while also trying to move quickly will never work. Time spent chasing various events and alarms takes your team away from building and innovating.
You have to adapt your system to become more agile. Yes, this means trading some stability for speed. However, finding the right partners can help reduce that risk.
Owning the Right Thing
The British couldn’t re-train their soldiers to adapt to this new quick-strike offense the Americans were using. When deciding to move from sustain/maintain to a move-fast-and-innovate approach, it requires a significant shift in our team’s thought process. We have to expect failure. We have to know things will break and not penalize our team when that happens.
That doesn’t mean we have to accept breaks– just because your team is now focused on moving quickly and building doesn’t mean you can’t have a partner picking up the pieces behind them. It’s a shift of ownership. Your team needs to own innovation and building. Let another team own the clean-up. The value is in getting or reclaiming market share, and if you choose the right partner, quality and stability won’t be affected.