“Disruptive trends never wait for those who are structured for slow in a world of fast!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
(Re the photo – you NEVER check your watch when you are up on stage, but I was making a point to the audience that things are moving fast, and you need to move fast!)
What do innovative companies do, and do extremely well?
They scale fast! Because the future belongs to those who are fast! Because trends now happen faster than ever before!
(That’s a lot of !!! but I’m trying to give you a compelling sense of urgency!)
When on stage, I will often explain that in a fast-moving world, any particular trend that has bubbled along for years can suddenly ‘go supernova‘ and become everywhere, all at once. That is happening right now with what is known as “generative AI” – that is what you are seeing with AI text-to-image generating technology. It’s happening right now with electric cars as we witness a total shift over the next decade, as carbon-based vehicles essentially become a niche market. And it’s happening at this very moment with the software platform Mastodon as the great Twitter exodus begins.
Organizations that scale fast know that they must challenge assumptions, eliminate habits, and structure for speed. When I was preparing for the particular keynote in the video, I spent some time looking back at a few organizations that I think had learned really well how to scale fast in order to adapt to fast-moving trends. This is what I saw:
- they allow for self-organizing teams that abolish hierarchy – because they can’t permit slow structure to impede their fast action – I call these ‘fast teams’
- they establish an “enabling” culture that encourages open thinking, rather than a “stifling” culture that glues the status quo into place because, in the context of fast trends, assumptions can hold you back
- they focus on knowledge replenishment: they know the knowledge they have is going to go out of date quickly, particularly in the context of fast-moving trends
- they have redefined innovation to make it inclusive, rather than making it the domain of a small, elite group – knowing that when sudden things happen, they need to quickly generate new, fresh ideas
- they are prepared for a big market and industry transformation and know that success in the future is not guaranteed – and that disruptive change can happen faster than they have ever planned for
As I comment in the video above:
Are we ready for a world of fast change? The future is going to come at you with staggering speed and staggering intensity. It is up to you in this industry to do what is necessary to align yourself to a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast. Maybe the very first thing that we need to think about when it comes to the future is to realize it’s probably coming at us with greater speed, greater intensity. It is happening faster than we think.
How do you do that? Fast teams!
When I’m having planning calls with my clients, someone on the senior leadership team will often express the sentiment that “the organization needs to move faster” in adapting to the rapid market, consumer, brand, and competitive change they are seeing. They realize that in order to do that, they need to change how their organization can scale, collaborate, and share insight on trends, opportunities, challenges, and threats.
There’s a critical innovation tip there. Innovative organizations EXCEL at forming fast teams. They’ve realized that their future success comes from scaling — scaling means pulling together key skills in an instant to tackle a new issue. Executing scale is critical — indeed, this is likely a critical success factor for all organizations in the future.
Fast teams are your future!
There are still many organizations out there that don’t have this capability. They’re based on decades of hierarchical structure; they’ve been slow and ponderous in their ability to deal with a world in which faster is the new fast. Yet they now know, given the speed of change around them, that the concept of corporate agility is critical, and that increasing, agility is defined by the ability to form fast teams.
It’s all about agility!