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Agility in Business and Organizations: The knowhow

September 23rd, 2020
Enterprise Agility

Agility in Business and Organizations: The knowhow

September 23rd, 2020
Enterprise Agility

Business agility is the ability of an organization to adapt quickly to market changes-internally and externally. Agile organizations can renew themselves, change, and adapt rapidly in a changing and ambiguous environment. Agility is not in contrast with stability. Agility requires stability to work properly. As organizational structure flattens authority and autonomy to the workforce increases in importance so business agility here requires leaders and managers to recruit, nurture, and hire people with a strong fit for the position.

Dynamic agility

We live in a world that changes rapidly, as an agile organization you need to be fast, nimbleness, and responsiveness to both internal and external shifts. Changes can cause a challenge or an opportunity. For winning in a competitive world you need to seize it before competitors. However, the ability to cope with new processes and systems is a specific feature for agile organizations and if the business is weighed down by outdated systems its chances of rapid reactions can be affected.

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Imagine a crystal glass, what happens if you exert force on it? It gets weaker and weaker and then it will break because it is fragile. But what would happen if you exert force and it gets stronger? It is a very simple definition of agility in business. As stresses and forces in the environment increase and the organization face giant change it should be able to adapt itself rapidly and thrives on change and gets stronger, the unpredicted challenge should become a source of real competitive advantage in an agile organization.

To quote Bob Dylan, “Times they are a-changing.’”

Of course, this the understatement of our era but that doesn’t mean that change itself has to be scary for your business. However, it can be the push your organization needs to better address your customer’s present needs as their behaviors change in response to the pandemic.

Consider these three points:

More customers will likely seek and use digital channels to obtain products and services. In-person actions will fade to the background of the customer experience as remote and digital customer interactions are foregrounded.

In the age of COVID-19, conventional interactions between staffers and your organization are evolving such that managers must delegate more aspects of critical decision-making to those “in the field.”

Maintaining existing connections with customers and fostering new ones is crucial to your organization’s economic well-being.

To address the above, the teams within your organization need to rally around the concept of business agility during COVID-19 and beyond.

Here are three concepts to consider as your company adapts:

Operations: Take Your Pick

Remember the cliché “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures?” Well, this is that extraordinary time. To remain relevant, your organization might find it needs to restructure and re-allocate its resources to new priorities.

Like the Disney film Frozen, you may find yourself singing “Let it go!” as you ax once-precious procedures in favor of leaner, meaner offerings that focus sharply on specific customer needs. At this point, many of these will exist within a digital platform.

Team Management: Safety in Numbers

Ensuring employee safety is a principal concern. So is empowering employees who are working remotely to make critical, informed decisions in real-time — both of which are enabled by the little ones and zeroes that make up digital solutions like unified communications platforms. Beekeeper’s mobile platform for frontline workers, for example, helps your team communicate better, coordinate faster, and get more done.

Communication: Keep in Touch

Whether or not you can see your customers in person, you must continue nurturing those relationships. Beyond being merely friendly, it’s good brand-building which increases agility. It will keep your business top-of-mind with decision-makers when the time arrives to choose between your or a competitor’s offering. Ditto keeping in contact with your suppliers and vendors — there’s no excuse for being “out of sight and out of mind” when the nearest Zoom room is a click away. Leaders build relationships of trust with key individuals by challenging them with an attitude of affection. Others are finding that technology-only meetings need to include personal touches to maintain relationships (in one meeting a leader asked those attending to show something personal about them from where they were sitting).

Uncertainty puts us all on edge, so remind everyone to practice (and practice yourself) patience, forgiveness compassion, listening, and appreciation, and help each other get back on track when you slip. Ask yourself: what relationships do you want to strengthen, and what skills would help you do so?

Also, be sure to give voice to customers’ concerns by actually listening to them and amplifying their voice throughout your organization. Let them share their stories and learn where their problems and your organization’s solution intersect — and, as importantly, where they don’t.

The ongoing crisis is just a large-scale reminder that businesses are constantly facing changes that threaten their bottom line – some minor, some major. Being agile, flexible, and resilient will better position you to overcome these challenges as they surface, with minimal impact to your business.

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