When companies first start out, they do their best to gain customers, trust and give out a certain sense of stability. Well established organizations pride themselves with how long they have existed and many even put their starting year on their logo – the fact that they have been around for a long time is supposed to be a quality guarantee.
Durability, however, might sometime prove to be a hurdle when it comes to agility. And with today’s levels of volatility, ambiguity and overall uncertainty in the markets, not to mention globalization, it’s paramount for any business to have the ability to respond and adapt quickly to whatever challenges may arise.
3 Steps in ensuring business agility
As this study shows, relatively few companies stood out as being especially agile: 58 percent of them had speed scores, stability scores, or both that hovered near average. An additional 22 percent of companies in the sample were slow—either slow and unstable, a group we describe as trapped (14 percent), or slow and stable, which we call bureaucratic (the remaining 8 percent).
These slow companies also got a poor organizational health score so here is what they should be doing:
Set up diverse leadership
Gobalization has made it imperative for all organizations to become both open and inclusive. However, the structures at the top have remained rather closed and hierarchical. In order for business to be able to be truly dynamic, managerial teams ought to be heterogeneous and diverse. This can be achieved by constantly looking for talented individuals who are outside the industry.
Today’s younger employees are always ready for new challenges, they seek different experiences and strive to better themselves. Instead of hiring somebody who has load of experience in managing one particular field, HR professionals should look for skills and enthusiasm rather than previous projects.
Important meetings should be held with people from all the levels of the organisation. This way there will be a clear transversal image of how something will be perceived and affect multiple departments.
Since people belonging to the same organization might at some point be biased in a certain view, hiring freelance consultants when big decisions have to be made is highly advisable. Getting outside input will either bring fresh perspectives or confirm that the existing one is valid.
Use data analytics to make quicker decisions
Many times it takes quite a while for businesses to either act or react because they are waiting to have all the data. Big pictures are indeed necessary and details matter a great deal.
However, instead of asking numerous people to come up with extensive reports, pie charts, predictions and presentations, it’s a lot wiser to tap into the immense potential of automated data collecting and interpreting systems.
Having all the relevant numbers in due time will allow managers to make informed decisions a lot quicker and more accurately. Either if these will be small adjustments or major shifts in direction, making them sooner rather than later will certainly give any business the competitive edge.
But apart from giving managers all the available information in an accessible form, it’s important to also give them the time and space to process it. In an agile organization, decisions are made at various levels. Senior leaders should be in charge of all strategic directions but not of everything having to do with the operational aspects – team leaders and department heads should tend to that.
Set up an ecosystem prepared to act
The key to being agile is constantly being prepared. For businesses this also includes all partners, suppliers and even customers. An organization is part of a larger and more intricate system that has to move along with it.
In order to make a plan, there first has to be an assessment of how sharing know-how and general information from the market with the various value elements in the system might accelerate change and lead to innovation. It sounds complicated but the bottom line is that decision makers need to figure out who can help the business move forward and what the business can do in return – or to begin with, depending on the situation.
And there is one thing that will undoubtedly change (or better said drive change in) any organization – technological development. Being prepared means having some idea of not only where markets are going but also of the technological trends that directly impact… well, everything. Technology is probably the biggest game changer of our time and what may seem science fiction today may very well be reality tomorrow.
All in all
Companies have to be agile in order to stay relevant and be successful. They can do so by upgrading on all levels – getting diverse leadership teams, gathering and processing the right data and preparing their whole ecosystem to consistently move precisely when that is required.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.