Time – enemy of the hand wringers

To a child, each day can seem to stretch on forever – they have the gift of seemingly being able to slow down time and luxuriate in the here and now. As adults, we lose this uncanny ability and each day hurtles past seemingly quicker than the last, as we wrestle with routines and commitments in life.

Even with February offering an extra day this year, we are at the back end of Quarter 1 before you know it. Trouble is, in the business year, this is the quarter that provides the bedrock to the year end figures, otherwise it’s all catch up.

Time presents huge challenges for businesses who need to take or retain competitive advantage in the market. While executives desire rapid action, they are are can be paralysed by failing to act quick enough, mired in committee and procedure which just sucks time away. I agree that concensus is important, but all too often business operations revert to risk averse, time-hungry processes and fail to take advantage of the limited time available.

It’s easier, perhaps, for an entrepreneur or small start up to dive in, act – make mistakes maybe (but learn quickly), than it is for the maturing or mid-size business, but it doesn’t change the fact that time is constant and as business structures grow you need to guard against overcomplexity and procrastination.

So – how nimble and efficient are your decision processes? How effective are your marketing and product development teams in delivering and executing to plan – to communicate new value? How ready and focussed are your sales and support teams to seek customer growth in the (still newish) year?

Crucially – how nimble are your competitors? How come they seem to get stuff out of the door quicker than you?

The moments need to count – much will stand in the way of gaining people’s attention this year. You need to deliver precise value messages at a time without distractions – and by the way, that means now until Easter (6 weeks), then May (4 weeks), then 3 weeks in June (thanks to the Jubilee), 2 weeks in July (thanks to the Olympics) and a nice clear run between Sept and the end of November, after which forget it as its now xmas for a month.

I speak generally from a B2B context – B2C and retail play to their own programme of seasons, oversupply, new stock in, etc – but it’s a wonder there’s any time to capture the decision maker, make a sale or build brand awareness.

You have to plan ruthlessly ahead for when these peak moments will be and aggressively use that time when it counts, having marshalled the resources to deliver new products, services or value to exceed your competitors and raise the bar.

By the way, if you’re still in planning mode for this year, or agonising over when to execute, you’ve blown the first quarter already.

Food for thought this weekend – which I am sure you will use the time wisely for!

Bye for now

David

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