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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: High Performance through High Velocity Discovery

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Monday, January 25, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Dear Peter,

Thanks so much for your question.

A few points, elaborated on below.

A: Success goes to those who improve and innovate most quickly and consistently.
B: The ability to do so is rooted in core capabilities/disciplines that allow relentless discovery.
C: Many managers are trained to think in terms of decisions, not discovery, thereby imperiling their ability to learn and improve continuously.

A: High Performance through High Velocity Discovery
In most sectors, even those with the most intense rivalry, there are standouts who achieve superlative performance by their ability to generate and then sustain improvement and innovation unmatched by breadth and speed.

B: Disciplines of Discovery and Innovation
These ‘high velocity organizations’ are able to discover better ways to do their work and even discover better work they do because of four critical disciplines of constant discovery that get to ‘learning oriented culture’ and ‘willingness’ to examine … taken for granted habits.’

1: SEEING PROBLEMS: They design and manage their work so exceptions to expectations are immediately evident.
2: SOLVING PROBLEMS: They solve problems that appear, not just to make the symptom go away, but to understand its root cause so it doesn’t recur.
3: SHARING LEARNING: When a problem is solved locally, the new found knowledge is applied systemically.
4: CULTIVATING DISCOVERY: Leadership models learning/discovery behavior and develops discovery skills in those for whom the are responsible.

C: Impediments to Discovery
There are two primary impediments to discovery.

1: Senior leaders don’t see a need to change.
It seems, every example in my book is rooted in a situation in which leadership saw a burning platform.  If they didn’t change, the viability of enterprise was at grave risk.

2: Senior leaders see their job as making decisions, not making discoveries.
Consistent across an MBA’s education are courses emphasizing decisions.  Finance tells you how to value decisions, accounting how to record them.  Even strategy, with the five forces framework, is taught as decisions towards achieving a position of power over customers, suppliers, and rivals.

Not taught is discovery as a core capability, the conversion of what is not known into something that is known and so can be used to generate competitive advantage.

Therefore, leaders who think their job is to make decisions about hiring and firing, market entering and exiting, and so forth view any kind of continuous improvement, total quality management, lean, six sigma, or other such effort as transactional.  They hire the expert, decide where to apply them, and have them decide on process reconfigurations.

Regards,
Steve Spear
Author: Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition.

Chasing The Rabbit

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