‘Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.’

~ Mark Zuckerberg

Today, speed of execution is at the core of success for most startups. Decide fast – execute fast – iterate fast – fail fast is the new mindset. This hasn’t been the traditional cultural mindset in India, to build a sustainable business, until recently. How relevant is the speed for India? And if speed matters, how do we make speed work?

So here is an interesting questionWhat is the most important component for the speed of execution?’ A few years ago, I invited responses to a poll on this topic on Twitter with three answer choices — Domain Expertise, Proactiveness and Collaboration. While the poll result was restricted to the answer choices available, we received many insightful comments on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

Let’s look at the poll results: 44% collaboration; 37% proactiveness; 19% domain expertise

Speed of Execution - Poll conducted on twitter by vani kola

Trust is the Foundation for Seamless Collaboration

 Collaboration among employees and partners is important to achieve speed of execution, which is crucial for accelerating growth. And trust is the foundation for seamless collaboration, which has a far-reaching impact while doing business. Some of our closest friendships and relationships, in personal as well as professional lives, are based on credibility, honesty and reliability and trust. Here is an interesting interview with Steven Covey, the author of ‘The Speed of Trust’. He shares the importance of creating trust-based relationships for faster execution.

Let’s look at some comments that we received on the poll

Speed of Execution - Tweet reply about collaborations
Tweet Poll - reply about collaborations Speed of Execution
Tweet reply about collaborations and synergy

Speed of Execution – Swift Decision

Swift decision-making is key to ensuring faster execution and is critical to scaling a growing startup. Here are some excerpts from Dave Girouard’s article on building #speed as a habit:

When you think about it, all business activity really comes down to two simple things: Making decisions and executing decisions. Your success depends on your ability to develop speed as a habit in both.

Key Takeaways:

1. Deciding on when a decision will be made from the start is a profound, powerful change that will speed everything up.

2. It’s important to internalize how irreversible, fatal or non-fatal a decision may be. Very few can be undone.

3. The candle is always burning. You need leadership to feel and infuse every discussion with that kind of urgency.

4. A lot of people assume dependencies where they don’t even exist.

Let’s look at the comments we have received on this point:

Speed of Execution - Tweet reply about decision making
Tweet reply about decision making

We have received many other insightful takes on what helps in the speed of execution including the importance of planning and prioritization. As they say, ‘Sharpen your axe before you cut the trees’.

When is the Right Time to Speed Up?

Speed as a habit is a great skill to be inculcated for personal as well as professional growth. However, there is a right time to speed in the context of scaling up a company. When you have a very clear idea of what you are doing, you have a strong unit of economics and a team that can accelerate growth and margins, it is the right time to speed. But if your product market proposition is not very clear, market adoption is slow, you really need some more discovery on product pricing, customer value etc., then speed does not offer any advantage. If anything, it might be detrimental to sub-optimal results.

Before you can run rapidly, you need to have responsible and sustainable experimentation to evaluate whether there is a growth inflection for what you are trying to achieve. Technology that you developed for one purpose may actually have to be pivoted when you go into the market and find a different customer need than what you originally thought of. You need to re-adapt and sustain till you are up and running again in the market to solve that customer’s needs. If that sounds like what’s happening with you, then plan for sensible sustainable progress and save the speed for when you really are in the growth vertex.

Summing up

For me, collaboration and decisiveness are the key components for speed; but proper planning, prioritization and proactiveness should be given enough importance. Lastly, while speed is important, ask yourself whether you can maintain this speed in a sensible way.

I welcome your personal experience, learning and thoughts on this topic.

Disclaimer: The article is the independent opinion of the author and does not represent those of Kstart or Kalaari.