Tony Swan, who passed away last year, was a writer, driver, racer, editor, bon vivant, and curmudgeon. I'd met him early in my career when I was an intern at Car and Driver magazine but came to know him a bit better over the past few years as a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Some who read this blog may know that when I'm not helping companies with marketing, communications, and new product development, I write about cars for several websites including my own, Rides & Drives.
Tony was famous for many things, one was his personal motto...
"Drive fast. Take chances."While Tony applied it to his time on the track and work at the word processor, it's easy to see how this simple phrase is crucial in business today.
The "Take chances" half of the equation is a no brainer. Business is all about risk, taking it and managing it. Without taking chances, ignoring the doubters, pursuing a novel idea, there is no progress. At some level, every decision we make requires a leap of faith no matter how many consumers we talk to or how may prototypes we test. That's where the "Drive faster" part comes in.
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, moving faster is a necessity. But it's not how just quickly you can get your product to market. Accelerating your time to profitability is crucial in a day where disrupters can enter the market from any direction and change the game seemingly overnight. That means a different way of innovating. Moving quickly with minimal investment, using MVPs to test the market, make adjustments, and move on.
This takes a clarity of vision, a commitment to strategy, decisive leadership, and an agile team. If you're mired by stages and gates, waiting for executive review committees, and fielding massive quantitative studies before making decisions, the market will pass you by.
It's time to run your business as Tony lived. Drive fast. Take chances.