EXPEDITE EXECUTION: Three Ways to Accelerate Action

Move Quickly_ Mindset for 21st Century Leadership

MOVE QUICKLY is about quickly spotting opportunities and dangers, mobilizing resources, and taking rapid, decisive action.

The MORE TIME you take to execute plans, the LOWER your probability of success. That is why you need move FAST, but “Fast” is relative. In practical terms, it means TAKING LESS TIME than the norm to get something done. That’s one of the secrets of the world’s most successful leaders. They move quickly to spot opportunities, mobilize resources and take action.

Why is this so important?

Time Compression: 21st Century Leadership Challenge

Time Compression refers to the fact that more significant occurring are at ever-faster rates. What used to take months and years, now happens in days and hours.

Time compression means that LAGGARDS LOSE.

How fast do YOU need to move? The answer is simple. Faster than the rate of change in your environment. The former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, explains why: “If the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”

In a world of rapid, often unpredictable change, moving slowly can have many negative consequences. Here are my top three:

  1. Planning assumptions become obsolete. What’s true today may not be true tomorrow. There are many factors that can make planning assumptions obsolete: sudden shifts in the global and national economies, market changes, extreme weather events, breakthrough innovations, supply-chain disruptions, to name a few. So, no matter how theoretically perfect your plan was when you created it, as the timeline lengthens, its value depreciates because the environment changes. You end up with a perfect plan for a world that no longer exists.
  2. Unanticipated adversity arrives. Remember the inevitability of Murphy’s Law, which states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Just give it enough time. For example, when a new product is first launched into the marketplace there may be no significant competition. But when competitors see your new product, they react and suddenly you are facing unanticipated competitive threats.
  3. Advocates of the status quo benefit. What happens when any kind of change plan is announced or even rumored? The advocates of the status quo mobilize to resist the change—regardless of its merits. Consciously and unconsciously, they find ways to block or slow the proposed initiative and otherwise undermine the effort. The longer you take, the more time the status quo advocates have to mobilize.

Moving slowly has consequences

WASTING TIME in a warp-speed world can be costly. To maximize your probability of success, Move quickly and reap the benefits:

  • Key planning assumptions don’t become obsolete.
  • There are fewer unanticipated consequences.
  • Internal opposition to change is preempted.
  • Planning gaps quickly surface and can be corrected.
  • Fast wins create a positive psychology for more action.
  • Desired results and economic benefits are accelerated.


  • Simplify Everything – Clear away anything and everything that isn’t immediately essential. The “Lean Movement” has a simple statement about how to do this. Eliminate “Muda”.  Muda (無駄) is a Japanese word meaning “uselessness; wastefulness”. In addition to eliminating Muda, you can also stop doing low-value activities and you can postpone mid- and high-value activities that aren’t immediate priorities. This leaves you with less on your plate. It “clears the air” and allows you to do the important things faster (and better!).
  • Create a Sense of Urgency – Given the warp-speed change around us, it is astounding that some people are complacent and self-satisfied with their current situation, without any awareness of the potential defects or impending dangers. The leader’s job is to wake people up, beginning with themselves. Step one is to “walk the talk” of moving quickly. For example, keep meetings short, to the point, and agenda-driven. Lead in a way that creates an atmosphere of urgency. Communicate the negative consequences of delay and the personal costs. Agree on aggressive deadlines for action and hold yourself and others accountable. Bring the outside in; illuminate the realities of external change and how the winners around the world are acting.
  •  Use a Parallel Approach – There are two basic approaches to action in a group: move serially, taking one step at a time; or, move in parallel, taking many steps simultaneously. One of the benefits of a Parallel Approach (concurrent engineering, market blitz, simultaneous deployment, etc.) is that it allows you to achieve the speed you need to succeed. Case in point: The global brand Pokemon targeted the youth market—specifically, young boys between the ages of 6 and 12. Suddenly the brand was everywhere at once: a widely-distributed movie; a cartoon show that aired 11 times each week on the Warner Brothers network; collectible trading cards; an ad blitz that included television, radio and print ads; multiple websites that offered interactive components like “Pokedex,” which helped kids track the toys they wanted to collect; promotional tie-ins with major organizations like Burger King; and, last but not least, a video game.

It’s about Time for 21st Century Leadership. Are you fast rnough?


If you would like to learn how to accelerate your organization, let’s connect.

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