Strategists define business agility as a business’ ability to adapt and lead change productively and cost-effectively without compromising quality. They enshrine business agility as the most valuable quality for any company. Let’s examine why that is the case using a little riddle.
Imagine a lion, a cheetah, and an elephant fighting each other over a piece of land. Who do you think wins this one?
Let your gut feelings answer. Picked a victor? Great! We’ll walk through the battle now.
It took them long, but the lion and the cheetah together ravaged the elephant. Confident, the lion took it to the cheetah when something unexpected took place. The elephant’s fall created a raucous sound that terrified a co-existing cattle of bulls. Thereupon, the cattle rushed towards the felines in a scene not unlike Mufasa’s passing in the Lion King.
The cheetah ran for shelter on top of a tree while the stubborn lion didn’t make a move. Eventually, the frightened cattle fled, but not before leaving the lion down, bruised, and battered. The cheetah descended the tree, delivered one last blow to the lion, and claimed its throne.
At this point, you may be questioning how all that is related to business agility. Well, we can think of the sizable elephant as a grand corporation. The mighty lion represents a smaller company but with an exceptionally strong product. Lastly, the opportunistic cheetah is an agile startup with a decent product. Back to the battle. The large corporation couldn’t prevail due to its complacence. With size out of the picture, it became a war of business agility versus robust product.
In a normal setting, the latter could have outlasted the former. However, the cattle turned the land into a land of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).
The startup with its agility adapted and won the market while the strong product yet unagile company faltered. I trust by now you’ve grasped just how crucial business agility is.
Of course, real markets are a tad more complex than the land in the aforementioned story. Business agility isn’t exclusive to startups and modern enterprises. Large corporations and strong product companies too strive to become agile. That’s because no market on Earth is devoid of VUCA and no organization is immune to it.
With that said, if you run a business and still haven’t established business agility, you need to act fast. Worry not about the journey to getting there, though. We’ve assembled a list of steps to help put you on the road to business agility. Buckle up!
Note: These steps are not sequential. You must implement them all in parallel.
– Step 1: Question, Hypothesize, Experiment, & Learn
To accomplish business agility, ensure you and your team are always in questioning mode. Question if your process is fully efficient. Look everywhere for things you can enhance. Even question the value of your products and the purpose of your brand from time to time. If you find any aspects that need improvement, hypothesize solutions right away.
Then, let the experimentation begin. Start testing on a small scale. Invest money, time, and effort whenever applicable. Ultimately, no matter its cost, experimentation will allow you to take decisions based on facts not on intuition. Obviously, if the data from the experiments supports your new solutions, implement them immediately.
Yet how you react when data doesn’t support proposed changes is a major test of your business’ agility. Deeming the entire process from the get-go a failure means you score low for business agility. Alternatively, think of the process as a learning experience. All cheesiness and Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes aside (no offense, Arnie), it literally is a learning experience.
The knowledge you and your team gain will level up your decision-making moving on. Not to mention, the produced data is a treasure that you can utilize later on in other ventures.
– Step 2: Stray away from any Complexities
I’d be remiss if I don’t mention that you must run the above process for each hypothesis separately. At the very least, don’t test hypotheses that may impact each other at the same time. That kind of harmful multi-tasking doesn’t mix with business agility. One of the main goals of business agility is to simplify. Period.
Without a doubt, business agility calls for simplifying more than just experimentation. Simplifying is a holistic approach that applies to all of an organization’s operations. One part of it is breaking down goals into clearer objectives. These objectives are less hardly managed. Furthermore, the completion of each objective becomes a feedback checkpoint as well as motivation for teams.
Another complexity business agility necessitates gets simplified is multi-layer management. Having many 2-3 people teams with their own managers is toxic. The managers will always be inclined to add value even when unnecessary. This bureaucracy can be a hit to team morale. There are lots of other areas for simplification. For example, you can simplify how your employees sign off arrival and leaving times. At times, when a task is giving your team a hard time, outsourcing may be a means of simplification. Try to hold fewer meetings. Look at your own daily routine and simplify it. Basically, if you want to bolster business agility, simplify everything in sight!
Step 3: Maintain an Open Line of Communication between all Departments
A prime obstacle to business agility is what’s known as a handoff. A handoff is when people from different teams work on the same task, but without communicating together. Consequently, each team optimizes the work from its perspective without thinking of the other. The end result is misunderstandings, conflicts, and mistakes galore.
Avoid that by involving representatives from all teams in discussions and big decisions. Forge a culture that pushes employees to work together and consult each other
– Step 4: Empathize with Your Customers
Putting your customers at the center of all your brand’s initiatives is a fundamental step to business agility. In a brilliant presentation,, Paul Cobban, the COO of DBS bank (the best digital bank of 2018), addressed this matter. At one point, DBS wanted to improve its call center service. So they decided to change all the scripts of their call center agents.
Specifically, they changed how agents speak to customers who had just lost their debit cards. This is usually accompanied by a loss of other valuables. To sympathize with such callers, agents don’t opt for an identity-confirming procedure right away like they did before. Instead, they first apologize about the stressful experience of losing valuables. Then, they smoothly explain the procedure in full before running it. At the end of the call, they provide callers with useful numbers they could use in such situations.
Appropriately, DBS’ customer satisfaction scores “went through the roof”, to quote Cobban himself. This customer satisfaction will surely back DBS up if the bank ever stumbles with VUCU issues. Therefore, empathizing with customers is an excellent way to achieve business agility.
You know how else you can empathize with your customers? By engaging them in new ways; using new tech, for example.
And what better tech to use in engaging audiences than Augmented Reality?
With its merging of realities, it provides the perfect balance between new and familiar. Moreover, AR is accessible, inexpensive, and ultra fun!
Your prospects will notice and appreciate that you’re using revolutionary AR only to spark their attention. Your marketing will be a far cry from that of other brands using traditional marketing tools. Thus, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll have your customers’ backing after that. That is, more business agility for you!