Fuel for Thought

Need for Speed? Slam on the Brakes

November 23, 2015

by Joe Thompson - Also by this author

“The thing that makes a car go fast are its brakes.”

This statement may seem counterintuitive. But isn’t it true that if you were driving a car with no brakes, you would drive very slowly? When you’re in a fully equipped vehicle with the ability to stop in a controlled manner, you’re free to drive as fast as you choose (or the state highway patrol allows).

In my last blog (Solar System or Silos? Your Company May Need Both), we explored how an entrepreneurial culture that has process and governance is the magic mix for a successful company.

This idea, credited to writer Kevlin Henney, applies to the importance of iterative testing, often used in software development. Testing might seem to slow down development, but it actually helps you get to the best possible outcome more quickly. By repeatedly designing and testing prototypes, no time is wasted building something that doesn’t function correctly or meet users’ needs.   

At ROUSH Clean Tech, we’ve accelerated from a small start-up model to a larger company. We’ve retained structures that help us “brake,” or check to make sure that our growth is on-track. From contract negotiation and management, to production and inventory controls, to product delivery and service, we’ve established end-to-end processes that keep good people from independently making bad mistakes.

These processes serve as brakes and, coupled with an atmosphere of cross-functional support, help us keep up with the rising popularity of cost-effective and clean fuels and move out ahead of competitors. 

With process (and brakes), your team moves forward with a greater sense of confidence. Hit key milestones with functionality and timeliness because the processes create a natural trust in the decisions. In this case, knowing your brakes work can improve functionality and allow you to hit timing on deliverables. Another benefit? This helps to be on budget.

So here’s your fuel for thought: Where are the “brakes” in your company? And how are they helping you move forward more quickly?

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Joe Thompson

President, ROUSH CleanTech

Joe Thompson has served as president of ROUSH CleanTech since the company’s inception in 2010. Under Thompson’s leadership, the company has won numerous quality control and environmental awards.

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