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Business Is Slowing Down

January 28, 2016, 2:47 PM UTC
Businessman sitting at office desk with document
Photograph via Getty Images

Talk to any CEO these days, and you will hear about the need for speed. Change is accelerating. The future belongs to the fast. Disrupt yourself or be disrupted. If you snooze, you lose.

But here’s the hard truth: business decision-making at most organizations is slowing down.

In the February issue of FORTUNE, Tom Monahan of CEB presents evidence he has collected from hundreds of examples, and it is shocking. Hiring a new employee, for instance, takes 63 days now on average, up from 42 in 2010. The average time to deliver an IT project from start to finish is 10 months now, up from 9 months in 2010. The average time involved in a B2B sale is up 22% over the same time period.

It’s not hard to imagine why this is happening. Technological change is cutting across the silos of traditional businesses, making decisions ever more difficult. Where one or two people used to sign off on a key decision, it may now require three or four or five. The matrixed organization has become the standard among big companies, but most haven’t figured out how to make the matrix work without gumming up the works.

To put it simply: technological change is happening faster than ever before, but the disruptive implications of that change are slowing business down. This highlights, once again, that the fundamental challenge of the new industrial revolution is not a technological one, but a human one. We have the technology to dramatically improve the way we do business; but most businesses don’t yet have organizational structures that can operate anywhere close to the speed of change.

You can read Monahan’s full piece here.

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