Scott Klososky. The Velocity Manifesto.
Austin,Texas. Greenleaf Book Press. 2011.
279 pages $24.95
Think you’ve got the latest software and the best IT professionals to put your company on the bleeding edge? Maybe you’re stuck with an antiquated CRM or don’t have an accurate way to analyze your company’s data, leaving you struggling to make it every quarter. Do you have a plan for your business to succeed this year? What about in five years? Ten?
Whatever you think you know about the way your company uses technology to meet its goals each year, forget it. There’s somebody out there using the same or better technology to its fullest potential, planning far into the future by predicting trends, and moving away from a hierarchical organization chart to a round organizational chart, creating teams that let in more creativity than ever before. They’re doing all of this to make their company succeed, and they’re doing it better than you.
Jealous yet? You should be. In fact, you should probably be concerned. Welcome to the culture of velocity. In today’s business world, technology is molding and shaping you to move faster, think quicker, and make game-changing decisions, and if you don’t keep up, you fall behind. That’s where Scott Klososky comes in. With three critical steps, he can help you turn your company into a cutting-edge organization that leaves the competition in the dust. Scott has a no-holds-barred, machine-gunfire approach to giving advice, but if you want to succeed in business, you have to be willing accept it and implement change.
Step one: renovate your digital plumbing, or the “technological framework that allows information to flow through your organization” (22). Without proper information flow, communication, and data analysis, your business has no chance of increasing productivity or overpowering competition. He empowers leaders to get in the trenches of the newest technology with IT developers, be unafraid to adopt new software, and set a precedent for employees that using technology in the newest ways possible is encouraged and expected. Eventually, a leader will be able to use this technology as leverage against the competition.
However, he does caution leaders to make the technology choice that’s appropriate for the business. It’s not always the case that the latest and greatest software or newest CRM will carry your company’s success. Creating a core team made up of representatives from all departments that report to your IT professionals will help you make decisions regarding technological advances.
But, as Scott explains, “All the technology in the world is a waste if you don’t have a forward-thinking strategy…A leader can usually state clearly what the company is about, but the larger concern should be where it is headed” (117). That leads to step two: create a high-beam strategy. Using the simple analogy of a car’s high beams, Scott shows readers that leaders have to have “vision precision,” or a clear idea of the future in order to lead employees. To have this kind of vision, leaders have to be expert pattern spotters. They need to be identifying trends, or “trendspotting,” so that they can accurately predict how technology, current events, and business practices will affect the company and your leadership.
By making the simple effort to put extra links on your newsfeeds with information about macro trends like globalization, technology adoption, and generational change, leaders can get big-picture ideas about how the world is changing and adapt accordingly with long-term strategies. By keeping an eye on your industry-specific trends, like new products and the competition, you can get an idea of where you need to be in a shorter time frame. These simple changes will take you from lagging behind to staying ahead.
Scott says that “a sophisticated infrastructure of digital plumbing paired with a visionary strategy for being relevant in the market place creates velocity” (118). If you’re with steps one and two, you’re on the right path. But how are leaders to maintain this culture of velocity? Step three: be prepared to revamp your organizational hierarchy and adopt social technology. There is a generational gap in the business world deeply entangled in the acceptance of technology, but you can fight this gap by reorganizing your hierarchy. While most organizations work under a pyramid structure, Scott encourages working toward a round organizational chart, allowing previously unheard opinions and ideas from the floor to be heard by execs. If you show your employees that their work is of value to you and the company’s success, their productivity and work ethic will become a never-ending stream.
Under this more balanced, team-like structure, the Millenials, or “the generation born between 1977 and 1998 who are often regarded by older generations as entitled or spoiled,” (202) get a chance to show their creativity and prove their work ethic, bridging the gap between generations. In addition, you’ll gain the social technology skills of the Millenials, gearing you toward enterprise social technology, or “the technology tools and concepts that can be leveraged by organizations as opposed to the personal use of social tech tools” (226). With their knowledge, your business can become powerful, leaping forward into the future.
To help leaders grasp these three revolutionary business concepts and put them into practice, readers might also be interested in Scott’s supplemental material. As you read the book, you’ll notice icons in the margins that direct you to his website, http://www.velocitymanifesto.com, which will supply you with additional resources, advice, and his own contact information, enabling direct communication about his ideas and your company. (Even the physical book is cutting-edge!)
Some readers might find this book to be abstract, and it is. There are specific steps to take to make your business succeed, and you have to take yourself there. Many readers will probably find these ideas too revolutionary to put into action in their own companies. But that’s where business consultants like Scott can help. Hiring someone to come to your organization and give you hands-on instruction will probably make Scott’s Manifesto less abstract and more accessible. After all, these ideas are on the cusp of forward thinking, and they’re not for the faint of heart. But, as any true entrepreneur will know, spotting a trend and becoming an early adopter is the key to success. Reading The Velocity Manifesto might just become your greatest move as a successful leader.