An agile business is an organisation whose business processes – integrated end-to-end across the company and with key partners, suppliers, and customers – can respond with flexibility and speed to any customer demand, market opportunity, or external threat.
Addressing strategic agility challenges
Globalisation and its interconnectedness has created greater potential for disruption, an “interlocking fragility” that is challenging organisations to make difficult decisions about how best to maximise the productivity and effectiveness of various assets.
Issues such as investment capital, workspace, infrastructure, technologies, and employee effectiveness must be scrutinised to maintain fluent operation when the disruptions occur. Unfortunately, many organisations have not invested in defining, capturing, and analysing workplace data to the extent necessary to make clinical decisions.
Far too many business support functions have standard performance indicators that enable organisations to adjust their operations to business fluctuations but these metrics are not adequate for the unforeseen.
As a result, organisations are finding themselves with a lack of insight around a number of areas that must be addressed to maintain operations in a disrupted environment, including:
- Defining the requisite knowledge, skills, and capability requirements needed for the execution of business strategy. Organisations must have a firm understanding of what skills and capabilities they have in-house, and where gaps exist, identify the best way to fill them through mobility or additional resources
- Evaluating workforce performance. In turbulent times, organisations need to identify and reward high performers to mentor others and close performance gaps
- Understanding collaboration and knowledge sharing. More than ever, organisations must ensure that critical knowledge remains visible as conventional communications are disrupted
Now is the time to build agility
Creating agile organisations involves taking decisive actions designed to pre-empt scarcity, while rebalancing productivity, effectiveness and cost controls, all while seeking targeted and innovative approaches to the workplace.
Action amid uncertainty
Today’s business environment is typified by increasingly complex and uncertain, with organisations facing increased global interconnectedness.
Global interconnectedness – and its integration of economies, societies, and cultures – has made the world smaller and, at the same time, more complicated. As globalisation opened up new avenues of trade and fostered growth, it also created a more interconnected economic environment. And with has brought greater potential for disruption, an “interlocking fragility”.
To compete in this type of environment, organisations must be capable of dynamically responding to a variety of business demands – with a response that predominantly involves transforming business practices.
It is an often-stated fact that, the speed with which an organisation can accomplish change depends on the inherent agility of the organisation, its people, and how these people have learned to balance discipline and responsibility. In agility, organisations find their unique rhythm, a rhythm that cannot be replicated by rivals and offering a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Greater agility allows a company to:
- Be first to identify an opportunity – and the first to exploit it
- Respond rapidly to a new proposition by reconfiguring external relationships
- Decrease idle resources, and thereby reduce costs
This type of adaptability does not happen by chance; it must be ‘designed in’. As organisations increase their responsiveness, it is important to establish pivotal points of flexibility throughout the business.
From organisational structure ... to external relationships ... to resource management ... to corporate culture, all facets must centre on making the business more agile.
While many organisations have become somewhat agile in specific areas, flexibility must become pervasive; it must be the primary design point of every aspect of how an organisation operates – commencing with its strategic business model, then pervading all aspects of its structure and governance, value network, work practices and corporate culture.