How Can Business Agility Help My Company?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of business agility and are wondering if it’s just another business buzzword? A fad methodology?

Aaron De Smet, Senior Partner at the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, defines organizational agility as “the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.”

We’d add the following to De Smet’s definition: an organization’s ability to quickly respond to changes in market conditions and their internal and external environment so they can capitalize on business opportunities.

Developing business agility can help you respond to market changes faster, improve organizational health, create better problem solving and more and how you can work to create agility.

No agility = no future

The hyperconnectivity of the digital world means changes and opportunities come overnight and disappear almost as fast. Success in today’s world demands business agility when you consider that 70% of the companies on the Fortune 1000 list 10 years ago have disappeared. The reason—they couldn’t adapt to change quickly enough.

Steve Denning, author of The Guide to Radical Management, echoes that statement, claiming businesses that can’t continually innovate have short life expectancies.

You can’t afford to wait

The continual rise of the global economy requires businesses to compete with companies of varying sizes all over the world. Despite this fact, some companies are hesitant to adopt competitive business practices until absolutely necessary.

Daniel Newman, a principal analyst with Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, says it’s only a matter of time until the market forces companies that haven’t become agile to do so. If you’re waiting for the market to force your company to change, you could be the next to vanish because you weren’t agile enough to keep up the competition.

According to Joseph Flahiff, agile delivery coach and consultant, if you’re not currently an agile company, “you are already behind half the business world.” Coming back for the win after being behind is exciting in sports, but not recommended if you can avoid it in business.

Methods for increased business agility

If you’re alarmed by the gloom and doom because you’re not as agile as you’d like to be, don’t let it get you down. We have some tips to help you increase your company’s agility.

As Flahiff has explained, “Becoming agile … means your organization has agreed to fundamentally change the way it conceives of work, plans work, assigns work, and markets, sells, and supports work.”

It’s true—you might have to change your whole company. Talk about daunting.

Fortunately, many companies already use agile practices so the transition may not be as complicated as you think.

Change is hard. But the benefits of achieving business agility are totally worth it. Agility creates a 71% faster response to changing market conditions. That’s game-changing. In addition to that, 70% of agile companies rank in the top quartile of organizational health. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that number?

With those statistics in mind, here’s how you can improve agility by changing your leadership style.

Increase agility with bottom-up leadership

You’re doing it wrong if you’re trying to become agile with top-down leadership. According to a Forbes article, companies looking to become agile need to develop a bottom-up leadership style. Why? Because it’s harder for a company to come up with the right solutions to problems when employees aren’t a major part of the problem-solving process.

Craig Le Clair of Forrester, one of the most influential marketing and research companies in the world, also says agile companies embrace more of a bottom-up style of management. The employees closest to customers and each part of the company are generally in an ideal position to understand different challenges and opportunities. Meaning that involving them in decision-making makes it much more likely that decisions will lead to wins.

It can be unnerving to involve employees in the decision-making process and may even require a little extra time at the start to get it going. However, Peter Barron Stark, nationally recognized management consulting firm, says involving employees in the decision-making process creates other significant benefits including:

  • Making employees feel more valued
  • Improving the level of employees’ day-to-day decision making
  • Creating a higher level of employee ownership of decisions
  • Freeing up managers’ time

Increase agility with a BI tool

To improve your company’s agility, you need a business intelligence (BI) tool like Grow.

Remember that game-changing statistic about business agility creating a faster response to market conditions? A BI tool will help you get there. A BI tool gives you greater visibility into company performance. Greater visibility allows you to quickly see how customers respond to your products and promotions. Meaning, you can make faster adjustments based off of their response to company efforts.

A BI tool facilitates bottom-up leadership because it makes pertinent information easily available to employees, empowering them to track the results of their own efforts. Based off of the results, they can see which actions are performing well and which actions need tweaking to perform better. If they spot larger problems, they can inform management in search of additional guidance.

Relying solely on management to catch and correct every minor or major issue significantly hinders business agility. When pertinent data is easily accessible to employees, it’s not hard to believe that companies using analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions.

What other benefits is your company passing up by not utilizing a BI tool? Download our infographic, How BI Helps Large and Small Companies, to see other ways companies use BI to help them unlock potential and how Grow can help you get to the next level.