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Put consumers first to lead at speed

If you feel like an injection of stimulating thinking to kickstart your year, we’d recommend Superfast Lead at Speed by Sophie Devonshire.

Cards on the table, I know Sophie and there is a tiny quote from me in the book but this isn’t an unashamed plug for a friend - it’s a hugely thought-provoking read. Sophie has interviewed all sorts of business characters from Paul Polman, outgoing Global CEO of Unilever to Greg Jackson, MD of super-customer-centric energy biz, Octopus Energy and Jose Neves, leader of unicorn FarFetch. She’s questioned them all on how to use pace to drive performance at a personal and organisational level. The answers aren’t what you might predict from the frenzied environment of furious deadlines with which we are all familiar. Three of the concepts that struck me:

  1. Strategic laziness – consciously doing less in order to do more

  2. The power of the pause – carving out time to think in a focused way; scheduling time to dream

  3. Getting close to consumers to accelerate decision-making – a) by building customer instinct so that you don’t have to resort to primary research so often but also b) to remove internal political barriers that slow success. Here’s how Paul Polman expresses it:

“The world we live in now requires us to solve internal company conflicts and these are being solved by putting the consumer first. You put the consumer on the table so it’s not about product supply, it’s not about finance, it’s not about HR, it’s about the consumer”. p161 Superfast Lead at Speed

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a thrillingly-paced, conflict-free, highly successful 2019!

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