Back in the day, change was hard. We didn’t have email or social media—let alone video chat—to speed up communication. Our idea of checking out what’s “trending” required making a visit, in person, to the nearest retail store. We used snail mail. We met for lunch and worked in traditional office spaces. We managed from the top-down. And because of that, change didn’t happen overnight.
Fast forward to 2017, and change is a completely different story. In today’s market, not only is change happening quickly, it’s forcing businesses themselves to change quickly. It’s a constant flow of innovation, disruption—and sometimes chaos—that is moving us ahead, even faster than we ever imagined. Many say agility is the key to surviving in the age of technological hairpin turns. In fact, 68 percent of companies identify agility as one of their most important initiatives. But what does agility really mean? And how can it help you survive in the current landscape?
The textbook definition of agility is, “the ability to move quickly and easily.” You might wonder, in a business sense, how well your company is achieving that definition? Lots of things go into creating an agile work environment: Size … Shape … Culture … Governance. And all must align with your vision if you want to succeed in a meaningful way. Below, I offer a few trademark qualities of agile businesses, and tips for incorporating them into your company.
They Focus on Continuous Improvement
By now, you should know that the nail in any business coffin is engraved with the words, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” The most successful companies today are ones that are constantly seeking to improve their processes, most specifically the ones that deal with customer journeys. This is a huge shift, especially for legacy companies where processes have set like stone for the past few decades—if not centuries. But modern businesses simply can’t survive on stubbornness or attachment to the past if they want to succeed in the here and now—much less the future.
They’re Obsessed with Customer Experience (CX)
Continuous improvement doesn’t just mean making processes faster. It means making every interaction that you have with your customer—be it on social media, through a chat bot, or via marketing drip campaigns—a positive and meaningful one. Even more, it means that you’re constantly thinking of new ways to use technology to keep your customers happy, knowing that their expectations are changing by the minute as they interact with other businesses throughout their daily lives. Being obsessed with CX means being proactive and anticipating your customers’ needs while thinking of new and better ways to meet them.
People aren’t just improving products quickly in today’s market. They’re creating new products and services that are turning our world upside down, often in what seems like the blink of an eye. Small startups have a definite leg up on larger corporations when it comes to moving quickly simply because they have less “stuff” (i.e. processes and people) to move around. Large companies have found that DevOps can help them trim the fat when it comes to real-time responsiveness in today’s marketplace. That means breaking down silos and focusing on both feedback and collaboration to move more quickly through development and design.
They Stay True to Their Vision
Agile companies do not adopt every new trend just because they can! They use down-time to carefully consider what new technologies fit their customer base the best, and how they can use them to work smarter. Agile companies don’t throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks; they think of smarter ways to make spaghetti.
They Pay as They Go
Why pay for third-row seating when you only ever drive alone? That’s the question modern companies need to ask as they begin to utilize new technologies like cloud/fog computing and other aaS models. The most agile companies don’t lug around the kitchen sink; they take what they need and take more only as their business expands. I’m not just talking virtual space. I’m talking office space, contingent workers, and more.
As Dr. Brigit Koenig, CEO of German’s Allianz Health, one said, “It’s never over. There is always change and always more to do.” That’s why agility is so important in the digital transformation. Change in today’s market is ongoing. Your company needs to be smart and lean enough to stay ahead of the curve, no matter what size ship you happen to be manning.
Additional Resources on This Topic:
The Four Pillars of Digital Transformation: Stability, Reliability, Agility, and Speed
Creating a Culture that Embraces Tech Change
DevOps: The Key to Your Company’s Success in 2017
This post was first published on Forbes.com.
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