• Donald Davis

Velocity is Equal to Adaptability Times Capability

One of my previous colleagues said to me once that a group of people that we worked with were “all thrust and no vector”. This meant that they looked like they were extremely busy without actually getting anywhere.

Mathematically, Velocity is a vector quantity that measures displacement or change in position over a change in time.

This past week I have had the opportunity to focus on a couple of organizations that have seen significant challenges as they have grown. What has happened over time is that the organizations have started to slow in their ability to respond to their customers and so they are seeing a slowing of their velocity. I would say that this often happens and in business the math is just a bit different. A business’s capability multiplied by its adaptability to change is what will in the end determine the overall velocity.

In one particular case the business has grown so fast that the leader needed to find a different physical location for his business. This shift in locations came with some additional baggage in maintenance and overall business inefficiencies that are causing him current cash flow and overall performance problems.

What do we do about it in business when our business slows down?

Adaptability Factors

Most companies that are growing have adaptable people. Where I have seen negative impacts are when an organization gets so set in its ways “the old way is the only way” becomes the montra.

To change this the leaders need to allow teams to come up with crazy ideas in meetings or brainstorming sessions and then allow them to implement the ideas. Sometimes, having small nimble teams to solve problems is the only way to come up with the solution to big problems but the organization also has to be comfortable with letting them implement.

Capability Factors

A critical analysis of the factors impacting the business often will lead us back to what is needed to improve the situation. In most cases it comes back to the basics, the standard operating procedures of the business and the metrics we use to measure the success.

I would start with the following analysis:

  1. Do you have clearly defined roles?

  2. Do you have the ability to be preventative in anything that can go wrong? (i.e. preventative maintenance on your equipment)

  3. Are your people trained and growing? Being able to maintain velocity means that your people have the capability to meet whatever comes their way.

  4. Is the work always visible (even when it is a work in progress)?

As organizations grow, maintaining velocity is often critical to remain competitive. I would encourage anyone who feels that they are not moving fast enough to first look at the capability of your organization and second your adaptability.

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