Graham Birkenhead, March 12 2019

Building the Culture to Accelerate

Acceleration is all about going faster, and then going even faster, and then faster still.   If you look at a graph of acceleration – it shows that over time, your speed, or size, or revenue doesn't just get larger in a nice straight line, but it’s a line that curves upwards.  Now the thing is with acceleration, as opposed to a nice steady linear growth, or even just sustaining the status quo, it needs your organisation to be able to respond when you put your foot down.  

If we use the car as an analogy, the rate of acceleration will vary depending on the road conditions, and there may be periods of sticking to one speed till an opportunity to accelerate again comes along.  Ultimately, there will be a limit – either in the engineering of the car (the company) or the roads (the market); at this point you may need to evolve into an F1 race car.  But before you reach that limit, the same car on the same road could be driven in very different ways by different drivers – one could chug along, one could spin and smoke and one could accelerate nice a smoothly. 

If business has been fairly steady, and you now have a vision of greatness, then the chances are that what got you here, is not going to get you there.  As you grow along your acceleration curve, you are going to have to keep constantly updating how you operate to keep it up.  It’s like redesigning and upgrading your car as you are driving it. 

There is a saying that is attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, that “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.  That doesn’t mean that strategy is unimportant.  Your strategy tells you where you are going and why, and your operations is the machine that you have built to get you there and these could be similar or the same as many other companies.   But what will differentiate your company and give it the edge (or not) is your company’s culture – and that will be UNIQUE to you. 

Acceleration Culture

Culture is the result of the unique interaction between all of the people you have chosen to work with, it is corralled and guided by your leadership and that of the management team you have put in place.  It is defined by the expectations that you set and behaviours that are rewarded or discouraged. It can be envied or emulated by your competitors, but it can never be copied – it is yours. 

So, what has that to do with acceleration?   Well, you may have acceleration as part of your strategy, you can invest in your operational machine and processes to take you ever faster, but ultimately, you need a culture of acceleration and that means you need the right people with the right mindset, and the right leadership.   

There is no absolute right or wrong for the culture you have; but you will probably see some of all of these in an acceleration culture: 

Another one of my favourite quotes is by Zig Ziglar: “You don't build a business. You build people, and people build the business”. 

Your people are what will accelerate your company into its bright new FAST future - are you building the culture that will enable them to get there? 

Want to know if you are on the right acceleration curve or want to know how to move faster,  please get in touch with me.

Written by

Graham Birkenhead


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