This is not something that I have learned from books, theories or even training courses.
This is what I have picked up in over 25 years of leading large complex transformation programs in many industries including Banking, Utilities, Logistics, and Manufacturing to name a few, working on both a global and international scale.
How did I come up with FAST
I was always the person who volunteered, who was selected, or the only person stupid enough to take on the more difficult assignments, the ones other people steered away from.
Jobs where it was thought to be too complex, timescales too tight, or where it just looked like it was impossible.
These are the roles I loved. Why? Well with these types of roles, ones that no one else wants, where you have the freedom to break the rules, to change the approach; to take chances that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Let’s face it; most people felt the projects I took on where going to fail anyway, so you can pretty much try out what you like, especially if you have previously had some success.
Before we talk about how do we achieve success, we need to understand why projects fail or why poor service is provided.
Only when we understand that, can we then eliminate the problems that cause us to fail, and we can start the journey on the path towards long-term sustainable success.
In my experience we fail, 95% of the time, because of one of two reasons.
We are either doing the wrong job, or we are doing the right job poorly, i.e. poor job, and more often than not it’s because we are actually doing the wrong job.
When I start a new project or take over a new department the first thing we need to do is to review our current performance and understand why we are failing.
In my experience, the following are usually the reasons we are doing either the wrong job, or a poor job:
Or my reason favourite, a combination of all 4.
So if many of our problems arise because of a lack of Focus; Accountability; Simplicity; and/or Transparency
Then my simple approach would suggest that if we have all four of these elements covered, then our probability of success will be higher, or at least our risk of failure will be lower.
Hence FAST – Focus, Accountability, Simplicity and Transparency.
So what is FAST?
It’s a simple straightforward approach which looks to ensure that we have got the basics right.
It looks to answer the questions What, How, Who and How Far, which are related to the task, service or project that is to be delivered, or goal to be achieved.
The better we can do in each of these areas; the higher our probability of success will be.
These are not independent components either, they play off on another, each providing benefits which can allow us to increase our capability in another areas.
For example Simplicity, the simpler the solution; the easier it will be for the teams to focus on the solution, as it is very difficult to focus on something that is very complex.
Focus and Accountability help us to ensure that we are doing the right job, and that the right job is getting done, which then increases our effectiveness.
We need to ensure that we are doing the right job, before we focus on doing a good job, otherwise we may end up doing the wrong job perfectly, which is of no use to us at all.
Simplicity and Transparency help to ensure that we do the job well, i.e good job.
The simpler the job is to do, the better we are normally able to do it.
Transparency allows us to monitor our progress and assess how we are doing and it helps to ensure that we are making the right progress. If this is not the case, then we need to react and make the necessary changes to ensure that we make the required progress.
The objective of FAST is to ensure that we do the right job, well, each and every time.
Excellence is just a product of effectiveness (right job) and efficiency (good job), and if we can get this right then we can deliver excellent results.
I understand this might look like a simple approach, but it’s often the simple approaches that are over looked, and why we end up with complex solutions, which often result in failure.
Having developed this approach, it is one that I have successfully implemented on several very large projects > $100m and also used to run very large departments budget >$200m per annum, as well as to achieve some smaller personal goals.
It’s also an approach that has been appreciated by my teams, as it has given them clarity about what we will do and how we will do it, and that has then helped them to perform at a higher level.
These are these benefit of FAST!
Gordon Tredgold FInstLM
Visiting Professor Staffordshire University
Faculty of Business, Education and Law.