Speed has become both an ideal and a necessity. Lifecycles are shortening, whether of individual products, technologies or even entire business concepts. The market can grow rapidly, with successful services able to acquire huge numbers of new users in just a few months.
Copying is also happening more quickly, with promising innovations swiftly imitated after release. The rate of consolidation has increased. A dominant market position can now emerge in a few years where this traditionally took decades to build.
The accelerating pace of the economy of speed is nevertheless not the pace of a sprinter, but more that of an orienteer. The route through unfamiliar terrain may be difficult, and with the ever-present danger of stumbling over some rock or tree stump, agility becomes more important than speed.
Being Fast Doesn’t Guarantee Success
It is naïve to imagine being so fast that mere speed could ensure a sustainable edge. Winning in the economy of speed is not only about pace, but also about getting the jump on others and progressing with greater agility. You are already hopelessly late if you only set out after you are sure of your plans, as someone else is sure to have started already. On the other hand, such early starters are very likely to go astray. This means that in the economy of speed we are mostly going to be either late or inaccurate.
“You are already ahead if you can see more than others and more broadly than others…”
Agility is the capacity to make progress despite uncertainty, observing and learning continually, and adjusting the plan as you go. This allows you to get things moving promptly without worrying about the consequences of going astray. Agility is all about rectifying and modifying decisions in the light of newer and more accurate information, so it also involves the capacity to gather and apply data.
Best Information And Decision-Making Matter
The winners in the economy of speed will have the most reliable information, the best vision and the best performance. You are already ahead if you can see more than others and more broadly than others, and you can extend this lead by protecting the information that you have gathered. Even so, information is only useful when it is used for making decisions. This not only calls for analytical ability, but also in particular for vision and innovation: the capacity to understand the meaning of data and to combine facts in a creative way.
The edge that comes from having the best information and decision-making ability will translate into success when combined with the finest performance, which in turn depends on speed and accuracy.
Value emerges from the ability to start moving promptly, to acquire and use information innovatively, and to perform efficiently as well. Even though we admire pace in the economy of speed, the wisest among us never forget that speed is not achieved by quickening the pace, but by eliminating slowness.