Overcoming Challenges to Operating at Pace in Organisations
Our Co-Founder - Mike Horwath - gives his verdict on how businesses can effectively utilise data and overcome the problems of data overload, scarcity & lack of direction.
13 July 2023
Challenges to Operating at Pace
Operating at pace is crucial for organisations to stay competitive in today's dynamic business landscape.
Through our experience with client engagements, as well as our own personal work, we’ve observed that businesses face a number of challenges that hinder their ability to make decisions swiftly and empower their employees.
In this article, we explore the bottlenecks and impediments that obstruct organisational agility, focusing on alignment and engagement challenges, functional silos, and the impact of processes.
Additionally, we’ll discuss the importance of trust, the role of internal systems and processes, and the value that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) can provide in enabling organisations to operate at pace.
Operating at Pace: Horizontal Communication Challenges
One of the main challenges we’ve observed that has hampered an organisations' ability to operate at pace is the lack of alignment and opportunity to collaborate with other teams.
Functional and siloed working patterns often impede effective horizontal communication, as messages need to travel up to management, as well as across and down to another team.
As organisations scale, these communication gaps tend to exacerbate, leading to misalignment, conflicting objectives, and a lack of collaboration.
From our experience coming into businesses where this has been the case, such challenges create frustration and greatly inhibit decision-making capabilities.
Operating at Pace: Process Overload and Dependencies
Dependencies in people, process, and technology can also overwhelm leaders and slow down decision-making processes.
As they scale, organisations have a tendency to implement more and more complex processes and bureaucracies that hinder swift execution of projects and initiatives.
Processes can then start to act as a comfort blanket, offering quick fixes rather than addressing the underlying challenges.
The danger is that when processes lack purpose and fail to improve the system as a whole, they, more often than not, inhibit communication and create misalignment.
Cascading approvals and the dilution of messages up and down the hierarchy further impede the pace of decision making and make it very difficult for employees to operate at pace.
Operating at Pace: Building Trust and Empowering Teams
We believe trust plays a crucial role in enabling organisations to operate at pace.
Teams that establish high levels of trust among their members can embrace agile practices, such as trunk-based development, without fear of retribution.
However, trust can break down when certain individuals exercise excessive control and impede the decision-making capabilities of others.
In the organisation where my Co-Founder and I met, for example, the Development Lead always had to approve every line of code. That's a process.
But it's not a process to benefit the organisation, it's a process to benefit the person who lacks the trust. Leaving everyone else to suffer the repercussions of delayed decision making.
Operating at Pace: Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loops
Implementing a continuous improvement approach across a business can help address systemic impediments and facilitate progress.
By establishing a continuous improvement board and encouraging all employees to contribute improvement ideas, organisations create a feedback loop for identifying and rectifying broken links in the system.
This approach helps foster a culture of open dialogue and drives positive conversations that lead to significant improvements in operational efficiency and decision-making capabilities.
The Power of OKRs in Driving Measurable Value & Operating at Pace
By clearly defining strategic directions and enabling teams to understand their purpose and objectives, OKRs reduce the need for excessive interference and approval processes.
Through establishing a shared understanding of the measures of success, teams gain greater autonomy and freedom to operate within the system, resulting in increased agility and faster decision making.
During the course of our work with businesses - from startups to global corporations - we’ve identified numerous challenges that hinder swift decision making and impede employee empowerment.
OKRs, by a long stretch, have served as the best and most holistic method for addressing these challenges, helping organisations to operate at pace, drive measurable value, and thrive in an ever-changing market.
Download our Full Guide to Delivering Measurable Business Value at Pace for more insights.
About the author
Taner is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of 1ovmany. He is also the Co-Author of The OKR Method a Strategy & OKR Expert and at times an Executive Business Transformation Coach.