Is business survival all about agility?

As businesses grow, the weight of their organisation will grow with them. Consider a business as it starts up like the small speedboat, able to change course at will without causing too much of a ripple effect. Then consider a huge corporation, established for years, to be much like a cruise ship, steady on its course, unable to respond to changes needed without great preparation. 

Mastering the art of agility in business is not always an easy feat for well established companies. But, as the world changes this is just what’s required in order to ensure longevity and relevance.

Whilst the world continues to change at an alarming rate, be that technology, innovation and an ever evolving workforce, has our definition of economic success changed with it? Economists have suggested that it is agility, rather than productivity, that will define the future success of our economy. In fact, I’m sure when you think back over recent years about the number of respected businesses reported in the press to have failed, you will see the recurring theme; an inability to adapt to changing needs. Blockbuster video anyone?

What do we mean by business agility?

When we talk about business agility, what we mean in simple terms is the ability to quickly reposition your company resources, human or otherwise, to changing market conditions and competitors. In other words, you snooze - you lose.

Whilst your competition develops an online proposition and you’re busy drowning under piles of paper work, guess who’s coming out on top? Now that may be an over simplified view, but you get the idea.

According to the Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, “The future will belong to firms who are fast-moving, agile and can respond to consumer demands as quickly as possible.”1 If agility isn’t your number one priority, maybe it should be.

How can you ensure your business remains agile?

Most changes need to occur at organisational level, starting with leaders. Leaders must have a strong identity that resonates amongst their company and brand, but also be flexible and open to new ideas, embracing change and the future. They must reaffirm the stability of their company whilst being able to present the ability to adapt and continually develop.

So what steps can you take?

  • To ensure balance, organisations must make conscious choices about where and how to be agile, designing a robust backbone of structures, processes, and governance.
  • By creating looser, more dynamic elements, you can adapt quickly to a changing environment and new opportunities.
  • As previously mentioned, leaders must master agility; they need to balance a strong identity with flexible practice.
  • Do you recognise those within your organisation that inhibit agility? By reviewing your reporting structure and relationships within the company, you can identify where you are likely to come up against problems and make adjustments to keep things moving.
  • Develop new leaders. Whether through active promotion of those already of the right mind set or bringing in fresh blood, if they are able to adapt and enable behavioural change, then you’re on the right path.
  • Development should be easy, with incentives, and managerial support reinforcing the way. 

Don’t forget, if you do decide to make any big changes within your business, or diversify in order to stay ahead of the competition, this could affect your business insurance. Be sure to give your broker a call to discuss, ahead of any major changes, in order that your policy remains fit for purpose. If disruption within your marketplace is also likely to affect your business, consider what your business continuity plan will be in order withstand the impact.

[1].IoD: Agility, not productivity, will drive economic success (1954)

Other sources: https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/voice-on-talent/the-future-is-agile-are-you.html