reports we see are monthly and are received two weeks after the end of a period. Yet we consider them the best source of data that can be acted on, and we base tactics and behaviors on these reports.
In today's warp-speed environment, when the life cycle of a sneaker product is six weeks, acting on month-old information is simply not fast enough. It lets a full month to go by before mid-course corrections can be made, trends reversed or reinforced, and timely recognition given to major accomplishments.
Having recently moved to California, I have learned lessons from members of my own new management team about how to "manage currently." The light-speed pace of change in Silicon Valley and across California has permeated even bank management practices.
Managing currently involves managing to the moment, to the hour. The time unit is not a month or a week but a day or an hour. There is tremendous value in this approach for many reasons.
It validates a great sense of urgency. It facilitates instant gratification and recognition for a job well done (and we all know that the closer recognition is to the event, the more effective it is). It lets only a few hours pass before errors are corrected, minimizing the waste of time on unproductive activities.
The quick decision-making pace permits much testing, since trial-and-error is not as costly when it happens over a very short period. Managing currently brings management and the field closer together, creates intensity and excitement, and improves the content, clarity, and frequency of communication.
How does this all get executed? By asking managers to report results on key parameters every two or three hours at the least, using pagers and voice mail. Managers report to their supervisors or team leaders at 9 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on the results of the day, on behavioral measures (such as profit per banker), and specific result categories (such as loan production).
I know what you are thinking: This onerous reporting must be deeply resented by the troops and must be extremely time-consuming. In fact, people seek the feedback and thrive on it.
Frequent reporting works extremely well as long as management acts on it and gives feedback. If management does not respond quickly, this becomes an exercise in frustration and can be perceived as a lack of caring.
But if management responds to reported information with either positive or negative feedback in a timely fashion, the troops are energized and inspired. They get valuable validation and reinforcement several times a day.
The result of this management style is a highly nimble organization. Regardless of its size, an organization that is managed currently can respond quickly and turn on a dime. In today's world, this can mean a significant and sustainable competitive advantage.