Interesting article in the WSJ today that touches on the role of speed: Companies change their way of thinking (subs. required). One of its messages is that finding and fixing problems quickly is good:
[Intuit founder Scott] Cook said the initiative, termed “Design for Delight,” involves field research with customers to understand their “pain points”—an examination of what frustrates them in their offices and homes.
Intuit staffers then “painstorm” to come up with a variety of solutions to address the problems, and experiment with customers to find the best ones.
Does this mean that time through the OODA loop, which is what this approach describes, is the fundamental driver of business success?
In a sense, it does. If you read the article carefully, or just examine the above closely, you can see that what companies are really getting with their rapid experimentation is better orientation: The more they can create and test their hypotheses, the better understanding they will have.
But it’s what they do with that orientation, compared to what their competitors do, that’s the ultimate driver of success. For one thing, it’s not as simple as I create and test 5 hypotheses and you only did 3 so I win. I could create and test a million hypotheses and never come up with e=mc^2. On the other hand, if we’re in the middle of a world war and I succeed in building a workable atomic weapon before you do, I might have a significant strategic advantage.
Toyota, by the way, takes this approach: For the production system, it’s the time span from customer order to customer delivery that’s important, not the time through any particular machine shop or process, per se. And Apple, you’ll note, seems to introduce products at a fairly regular tempo — when they’ve reached insane greatness. What Apple and Toyota will do is use their higher OODA loop speeds to explore a wider range of possibilities, which gives them more options, within the time interval they’ve selected.