On the 120th running of the Boston Marathon a reporter said that we are seeing younger runners in the race whose motivations are different.  They are running to beat their best time, not beat other runners. For them it is all about increasing their own speed. Breaking their own barriers.

These runners realize that running fast is not enough, they need to be increasing their speed to stay ahead of their own personal best.  The same is true for organizations.

All businesses are being impacted by the accelerated pace of change.  It is no longer enough to keep pace with a rapidly changing and dynamic business environment.  The rapid pace of change makes acceleration a critical part of everything we do. Like a runner, it is not enough to be running fast, we must be running faster over time.  Organizations need to be moving faster in a world that is increasingly more complex and uncertain.

Acceleration is an event that occurs when something moves from one state or phase to another.  It shows the change in speed in a unit of time.  The concept of acceleration is often misunderstood.  You may have heard someone observing a runner say, “They are moving fast.” A runner can be traveling fast and still not be accelerating.

Acceleration is all about changing how fast an object is moving.  If the runner is not changing the speed, they are not accelerating. But acceleration is not enough.  You need more than speed to succeed. Acceleration is a vector that can change in two ways – a change in speed and change in direction.  Like individuals organizations must not only be moving faster, they must be moving in the right direction.

On a road trip a couple of years ago my husband said he would take over driving while I rested. When I woke up he said they we were making good time but I noticed that we were heading south not east.  In fact, we had lost a good hour.  The speed was great but the direction was off.

We see similar things happening in organizations.  Most organizations spent the last few decades streamlining operations to make them more efficient and effective. This has enabled them to operate at maximum speed to support their core business but these efforts have hampered their ability to build new businesses.  Streamlining systems and processes to support an existing business is great in a more stable, steady growth economy but doesn’t work in one that is constantly changing.

The accelerated pace of change is impacting every aspect of your business. There is more complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty than ever before.  Globalization and technology have leveled the playing field. Employees are less engaged, they want to be challenged and they want to do something that has meaning.  Customers and clients are more knowledgeable, have more choices and are less loyal. The world of business is being transformed.  Entire markets are being restructured.

Yet, we continue to see organizations struggle with their ability to change, let alone accelerate the speed in which they change.  Change is the biggest obstacle and the biggest opportunity for most organizations.  In fact, many organizations report that given the volatile market things have slowed down, risk is avoided, decisions take longer, and growth has stalled.  All of this is happening at a time when most organizations are under pressure to generate new growth.  It’s not only speed but a change in direction that is required.  One that enables organizations to be more flexible and adaptable.

In order for organizations to increase the speed in which they respond to change and achieve business growth they are turning to corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship.  The goal of corporate entrepreneurship is to build the capabilities that enable organizations to accelerate business growth.  Organizations that have successfully implemented corporate entrepreneurship statistically do better.  They tend to attract and retain the best and brightest.  They have higher levels of employee engagement, innovation and growth.

It’s not just about speed – corporate entrepreneurship helps you move your organization in a new direction.

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