Is there an effectiveness limit to the changes we can make to an organzation to seek improved results? We may think that change is hampered only by the boundaries of innovation and creativity - but that's not be the case. An organization can get to a point where the incremental change will have virtually no effect at all - to better understand why, let's look at the design of a boat's hull for insight.
Hull speed is how fast a boat can move through the water. In simple terms the boat makes a hole in the water (displaces water) and pushes the water out of the way in the front (creating a bow wave) and the hole fills up when the boat passes (creating a stern wave). There is a maximum hull speed – and at that point the boat will not go any faster, no matter how much more sail or power is added – it just cannot go faster unless the boat is modified.
Picture a tugboat – this squatty small boat has two huge engines – up to 1,000 horsepower each and does a great job of pushing large vessels around. With all this raw power, will the tug scoot across the water like a racing boat when not pushing other vessels around.. Can’t happen – even with the throttles full open. Same is true of the tall ships – with their miles of canvas above deck – adding more will not get it to travel beyond its hull speed.
For more speed, the design must be modified – but at a cost…trade-offs of capacity, functionality, range and stability. You could wring out more speed by lightening the boat to displace less water or having less hull in the water (catamaran or hydrofoil). However, more speed is bought by smaller cargo capacity, less maneuverability, or loss of stability in rough seas.
How does this apply to leadership of an organization? After fine-tuned processes and captured efficiencies, the organization hits its 'maximum hull speed'. Adding more 'canvas' will have virtually no effect:
- Sales are down – sales force is told to work harder…do more of the same things
- Production capacity is at 100% - production is told to make more…using the same processes & equipment
- Hard times >>> expense & staff cuts – still must achieve committed throughput – applying pretty much the same methods & controls with fewer hands.
Your employees and staff will try to ‘push harder’ to meet the new reality until fatigue and frustration bleed away their energy. You may even get a positive unsustainable short-term spike in results – but it is short-lived.
Whoa – is doom & gloom the only thing you can look forward to??? Of course not!!!
As in the boat analogy, there are a number of things that can be done to improve things – leadership is recognizing what can create positive change with existing resources, such as:
- Eliminate deadwood processes & procedures which do not directly add value
- Training for efficient use of the equipment
- Schedule weekly status meetings
- Get innovation from your ‘Doers’
Come discover more at the session. Keep this in mind about Hull Speed – before making major design modifications and suffering the trade-offs, why not scrape the barnacles from the hull to get some additional speed? Join us.
When & Where
Sales Lab, Incorporated
Explosive Growth, Abundant Cash Flow
High Return Leadership Program