Author: Terry Bennett
Isn’t that what agility is all about…changing?
So why do people seem to be making such a big deal about the need for companies to be more agile?
Simply put, if the world was not changing so rapidly, companies could continue operating in much the same way they always have. Compared to today, the business world of yesteryear was glacially slow…but then again, you didn’t have to move quickly. You understood who your competitors were. You likely knew their product plans, but even if you were surprised, any changes they might make would not be so radically different that you couldn’t catch up in a relatively short amount of time. Your overhead compared with that of your competition was in the same ballpark. Your customers often knew only what you told them about your pricing, quality, and product. And while you might listen to them, your customers rarely if ever presented a united voice. Things were methodical, and the pace of change was linear.
Our World Is Becoming Increasingly Unpredictable
This unpredictability is precisely what is driving the need for greater agility in business.
Agility and Reacting To Change Are Not Equivalent
Being agile does not simply mean that you have made up your mind to react to change when it is thrust upon you. Your extent of agility is determined by the degree to which you can change course and the speed in which you can achieve this change. While both a ballerina and a battleship can change course, one would never think their agility is the same. Obviously, the amount of baggage your company carries will make a difference on how agile you can be.
In addition, companies must be able to anticipate change whenever possible. Rather than internal, your focus must be external – upon your customers, the ecosystem in which you operate and even upon the startup community which may spawn your next partner or competitor. Such anticipation increases agility by helping you to prepare, adjust, and adapt. This external focus can also be used to feed your innovation engine bringing value creation4 and helping you to create your own future.
Companies can no longer achieve success by setting sail on a 5-year strategic plan that is revisited just once a year. Nor can organizations afford the time to run most decisions up and down the chain of command. The unpredictability of our world today demands increasing agility to thrive – and perhaps even to survive.
1 Kelly, Kevin. “The Technium: The Expansion of Ignorance.” Kk Lifestream, kk.org/thetechnium/the-expansion-o
2 Fenwick, Nigel. The Future of Business Is Digital, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forrester/2014/03/10/the-future-of-business-is-digital/#6e13083a7db8
3 Wouter Aghina, Aaron De Smet, and Kirsten Weerda. “Agility: It Rhymes with Stability.”McKinsey & Company, http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/agility-it-rhymes-with-stability.
4 Satell, Greg. “Innovation Is The Only True Way To Create Value.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Dec. 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2015/11/29/innovation-is-the-only-true-way-to-create-value/.
Terry Bennett is a partner with Fortium Partners, a technology executive services firm providing world-class leadership to clients looking to find solutions to complex IT issues or difficult-to-solve challenges. He is a strategically-minded difference maker who improves business results through people, processes, and technology – in that order. Terry has successfully transformed IT departments into dynamic organizations that are proactive, business-focused, and intent on bringing a competitive advantage. His teams are recognized for achieving the highest levels of satisfaction from those they serve. He has achieved success in startup to turnaround to mature organizations, family-owned to Global 500 companies. Terry has a special passion for helping the C-suite transform their company to achieve the speed and agility needed for success in today’s world.