How to Build an Agile Business ?

Constant change is a norm in today’s fast-paced business environment. It’s become important for companies to respond almost immediately, in order to sustain in a business world where:

  • Geographical boundaries are continually diminishing;
  • Technology is rapidly advancing;
  • Customer expectations are ever changing; and
  • The whole world is 24/7 connected.

Agility is one of the most important means to deal with it. If you look at businesses that are progressing like anything, you will find that it’s their ability to be flexible and nimble that’s been helping them stay ahead in competition. They are the ones that

  • Are more likely to be first to the market
  • Innovate more frequently
  • Are the best employer brands

Given the speed of market changes, an increasing number of companies, irrespective of their size and nature, are jumping on the agile bandwagon to survive and grow in tumultuous business environment. But sticking to the traditional values and modus operandi is not going to help. One must remember that agility is not just about implementing and executing new processes or templates. Rather it’s about developing an agile mindset and empowering people to face challenges without hesitating.

Building an Agile Organization

So, what does it take to build a company that’s flexible enough to respond quickly and efficiently to market changes? Well, just thinking about being agile doesn’t make you agile. It requires changes right from the scratch – far beyond business processes and operations. And without solid preparation, it is not possible.

So, how do you go about it? Listed below are introductory steps that you need to take to prepare yourself to move towards agility. Take a look:

  1. Ask yourself these questions

    Just because agility is a buzz word and almost every organization is jumping on agility bandwagon, you should too. No. What worked for them may not work for you. Each business is different and thus, requires undergoing different changes. You need to change only when required. Ask yourself following questions, in order to gain more clarity:

    • What do you want to change?
    • What’s the reason for which you want to change?
    • What value do you need to create?
    • What are the weaknesses because of which you want to change?
    • What opportunities do you want to grab?
    • What’s happening in the business world that compels you to change?

    Find answers to these questions before you actually start working towards building an agile organization. Once you know what changes you want to achieve and why, the next step is to understand your concerns.

  2. Define your concerns

    Well, knowing what changes are required is not sufficient. There are high chances that your efforts will stumble if you don’t look into the current status of your organization. Is it ready to accommodate change? How are you going to communicate to your people that they need to change the way they have been working for years or may be decades?

    There’s a lot of homework that you need to do. Once you know what to change and why it is necessary, the next step is to define and concerns or possible hindrances that you may face. Find out if,

    • You have full understanding of how to bring about a change effectively
    • It is a minor or major change
    • You can generate sufficient ideas or need to hire change management or agility experts
    • It can be delegated to the middle management
    • There are any technical problems that you may face
    • It will be easy to motivate people to help you work on achieving agility

    This analysis will give a clear picture of what is needed. It can also generate a lot of ideas. Remember that the ultimate goal is to help people become flexible and nimble and not to scare them.

  3. Build a team

    Agile transformation is continuous and collaborative. Top management alone can’t make it happen. To succeed, you must form a team – a team that has willingness, capability, resources and power. The team itself must have agile elements. They must devote time and effort to it and meet once a month or quarter, depending upon the speed of change you expect to discuss the achievements and the way forward.

    It is not necessary that you invite only the top and middle management to become a part of the team. Rather you may choose individuals who come with a fresh thinking and are very flexible. The selection of team members is really important. It would be ideal to make a list of the characteristics that an individual should have to be a part of the team responsible for acquiring agility.

  4. Share your vision

    What does a team work for? A goal. A vision. If there is no goal, the team wouldn’t work. And if there is no tangible goal, a team wouldn’t have a clear idea of what and how to achieve. And if there is no sense of urgency, it wouldn’t dedicate the required time and effort to achieve the goal. Therefore, it’s important for you to share a goal with your team – a goal that

    • Is tangible
    • Has an attached sense of urgency
    • Has clearly defined the milestones
    • Seems feasible to achieve
    • Has a timeline associated with it
    • Explains the ideal status
    • Has a budget attached to it

    Once you share your vision with the team members, let them operate on there on. This is because autonomy, flexibility and ability to respond quickly is what you’re looking to achieve. So, why not start with this very team.

  5. Extend your support and remove barriers

    Generally even well-planned transformations fail. Because of the obvious barriers, such as organizational hierarchy, one-way communication, lack of required resources, etc. It might be the communication and approval process itself that delay decisions. It doesn’t lead you anywhere. Rather it will take months to get a project off the ground. And delays are directly proportionate to loss of precious man hours and funds.

    The key to expedite the process is to remove the barriers and extend your support. You may not see changes overnight. But constraints result in unnecessary delays. Moreover, this will undermine the urgency of bringing change.

  6. Measure the value achieved

    Last but not the least, measuring and analyzing the results is the most important aspect. Even a simple analysis helps make ideas more visible and clearer. The concepts come out more concrete. You get to know if you were able to drill down to the goals with the current strategy or not. You learn about the modifications that need to be made in the working style and process. You also get a clear picture of:

    • Whether or not to continue working in the same direction
    • What adjustments can be made immediately
    • What would be the goal for the next quarter
    • How long it will take to achieve desired results

Agility cannot be acquired overnight. In fact, it’s a never-ending process. Therefore, begin with that aspect that requires immediate changes. Also, track your performance on continuously to ensure that you’re moving in the right direction.

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