A conversation on agile strategy and opportunity with Andy Frawley and Bob Weiler.
It has been just over three months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In a bid to return to a sense of normalcy and mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, some restrictions are being lifted, and economies are beginning to reopen. I sat down with Andy Frawley, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of V12, and Bob Weiler, Managing Founder of Brimstone Consulting, and discussed what leaders need to be thinking about and what actions they should be taking.
The current environment requires agility and agility, Bob Weiler reminds us, starts with market realities. “Everybody right now,” says Bob, “should be going back to their market realities if nothing else.” “If you do this,” he continues, “you will begin to see opportunities.”
What does this mean? It means talking to customers and assessing where they are now, what they need now, and what they are going to need. It means understanding not only your competitors but also your supplies and vendors.
“The best source of realities comes right from the front lines.” Andy continues, “It is the most current information you’re going to get. It is going to be more current than what you would get from a third party or an external resource. It leverages the power of the organization.”
Understanding these market realities is critical as they are what highlight opportunity. Bob: “Once you understand the kind of competitive forces, the customer forces, and the external forces you don’t control, you can make assumptions and quickly begin to see opportunities. And in disruptive times, there are tremendous opportunities. You need to move quickly to get those opportunities.”
“We’ve all heard the saying ‘perfection is the enemy of greatness.’ I think many people get into strategy, and they’re trying to make it perfect, when in fact it should be fast, flexible, and time competitive.” To move forward, Bob continues, we need to abandon perfection, “Let’s not make it perfect, but let’s move quickly and find opportunities and react to those opportunities.”
V12 is the backbone of V12’s success. Andy shares that the organization is continually testing a set of strategies. “Some might be low-risk, low-reward, and others might be high-risk, high-reward. Everything has success criteria articulated. We fail fast. If it doesn’t work, we stop. Test and learn is really the only way to move forward in any business environment, particularly in one that is complex and where you don’t have as much control as you would like.”
Both Andy and Bob warn that organizations should not ignore critical issues. The process of developing and executing agile strategy highlights critical issues. In the current environment, it may seem easier to set these issues aside. Ignoring critical issues will hamper recovery and, when we are out of the emergency, the issues will remain. Bob explains, “A lot of the problems you had going into a disrupted period like this, are the ones you are going to have coming out of it. They may look a little different, they may be shaped a little differently, but your organizational issues still may be there. Everybody should constantly be looking at how to reorganize to either be more efficient or serve your customers more efficiently. In addition to looking at new opportunities and looking at the market, you also need to look at those critical issues you had coming into the pandemic. Use the market reality to decide what to drop and what to keep.”
At V12, Andy shares, the company has shifted its product strategy and go-to-market strategy. Further, it is being opportunistic and hiring top talent made available due to the pandemic.
“If you want to move the business, you have got to move people. This is something you can still do during a pandemic,” says Andy. Since the start of the pandemic, Andy has seen people motivated to step up and step in. V12 is doing talent calibrations monthly. This has helped to highlight the next tier of leaders.
“Developing talent, developing leaders, and energizing and engaging people is what transforms an organization and drives results. In times of disruption this,” Bob notes, “is something leaders need to remember – especially in times of disruption.”