Introducing Zensar’s Enterprise Velocity Survey – a primer for businesses that want to move fast without breaking things
Read time: 3 minutes
Citius, Altius, Fortius
The keenly observant will quickly realize that this is not me showing off my Latin skills (I don’t have any). I’m merely relating what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) find to be at the heart of competitive sport. It means Faster – Higher – Stronger. An easy credo to understand and appreciate, but a difficult one to live by. That’s why Olympians are a rarefied group. But there is another not so rarified group that lives by the same motto – albeit unstated – enterprises, companies, businesses and conglomerates.
The business world is more cut-throat than the greatest exhibition of human strength and endurance, but similarities between the Olympics and businesses both end with the inevitable promise of gold. With that said, the Olympics are a game of boules compared to the world of business today, which often resembles a particularly bloody rendition of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I exaggerate not. When our survey (I’ll come to that in a bit) asked business leaders about how important velocity was to business success – 97% of the respondents said that it was critical. The remaining 3% of the respondents were probably too busy running fast to pay attention to the question.
It’s intuitive, isn’t it? The faster fish escapes the predator, the rest become supper. The rapid rocket escapes the earth’s gravity, the rest languish below the stratosphere. The quicker hare beats the slower tortoise in the race. Or does it? Perhaps you need to search your memory for what your preschool teacher really told you.
If there is one thing that the vagaries of business, the markets and indeed, life, have taught us, it’s that there is always more than meets the eye. Speed is no different. We all know instinctively that mere speed isn’t enough to succeed in business or in life. We at Zensar knew this too but wanted to prove it. So, we did. How? Just as any self-respecting analytically curious people would do, we ran an executive survey. Over three hundred business leaders and practitioners were subjected to an, admittedly philosophically challenging set of questions around the finer points of velocity and how the concept relates to business decisions. To their credit, these leaders saw what we were getting at, and what we captured are some important insights on how enterprise velocity is very different from raw speed.
The Oxford dictionary defines velocity as, “the speed of something in a given direction.” Easy enough but deep. Consider a hamster running fast on a wheel. The hamster is moving with great speed but zero velocity. The obvious (perhaps) difference is direction.
When our survey delved deeper into what constitutes “direction” for businesses, our audience thought more deeply as well, and counted long term vision, customer insights, agile operations, digital maturity, and a culture of experimentation as indicators of direction. But what really buoyed our spirits was a resounding agreement with what we all instinctively know: it’s time to stop thinking in terms of speed and start thinking in terms of velocity. While acceleration is critical, so is the directional component of it. Just moving fast without purpose, intent and direction will end up in broken plans, promises, and probably some bones too. It also puts immense pressure on teams, leading to burnout, dissatisfaction and mistrust. In contrast, velocity advocates an inclusive, holistic, and people-oriented approach. After all, the IOC too amended the Olympic motto earlier this year to include communis (together).
I’ve had the pleasure of presiding over a few customer surveys in my lifetime. But none intrigued me more than the Enterprise Velocity Survey. We are exceptionally proud of the report that we have been able to put together based on the survey results. It’s guaranteed to provide many minutes (if not hours) of brain-tickling insights and ideas. So, head over to our survey, and do share with us what you believe the basis of “Enterprise Velocity” to be. Happy reading!