The Need for Speed is Not Enough

Moore’s Law posits that technological capability (transistors in the law’s original form) roughly doubles every two years. Simultaneously, the cost of that same technology halves over the same time. In short, technology is speeding up and only gains more momentum with time. You can say the same thing about business. To stay ahead, a company must continually improve. It must innovate, find efficiencies, do more with less, and shift to new opportunities before economic slowdowns occur. This nonstop forward movement has been termed “the speed of business” in numerous business journals, including Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc. However, speed alone is not enough.   

The definition of speed is the ability to move the body (or business) in one direction as fast as possible. But what if you’re moving in the wrong direction, or obstacles hamper progress? Without the ability to effectively change direction, the result could be disastrous. So, in addition to speed, a business needs agility.

Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilize, and change direction. These actions require attentiveness and skill to keep the organization informed, aligned, and galvanized. Abruptly changing direction, slamming on the brakes, or burying the accelerator can damage a company, no different than what is personally felt as a passenger when a driver maneuvers aggressively without warning. Adept leadership and management talents are required to make a swift, controlled, directional change and regain lost momentum. Speed resumes after the shift, and the business is vigilant to detect the next directional change. Once discovered, a third business characteristic emerges — quickness.

Quickness is the ability to react and change position. In the case of a business, it is the skill of seeing the need for change, alerting key personnel, and communicating the change to trigger business agility. But while the strict definition uses the word “react,” it is far preferable for a company to respond to disruption rather than react to it. The former is deliberate and controlled, while the latter is emotional and erratic.  

Athletic circles refer to the combination of speed, agility, and quickness as SAQ (“sack”). Just like how athletes train themselves to a high level of nimbleness, so too can a business. A company can refine its risk approach, decision-making processes, planning methodologies, delegation levels, and execution capabilities to elevate its speed, agility, and quickness. 

In addition to adopting a growth mindset across the organization, a company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), checklists, goal and objective decomposition process, role and responsibility assignment, performance indicator selection, succession planning, action and issue management, and meeting cadences can all be improved, leveraged, or orchestrated to heighten a business’ SAQ capabilities. 

In 2016, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff stated, “Speed is the new currency of business.”  With homage to Moore’s Law, “the speed of business” has since been replaced with “the speed, agility, and quickness of business.”  

Does your company need an operational tune-up? Could improved business SAQ provide a competitive advantage? Helmwise can help. Visit and schedule a complimentary consultation.