What is Business Agility : 70% of the companies that were a part of the Fortune 1000 list a decade have vanished into oblivion. They include some of the big names who were first entrants or pioneers to the market.
Among the long list of bygones are Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Yahoo, and MySpace. While other big names like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Mastercard were quick to steer towards innovation and managed to dominate the crisis.
Now, what is the difference between the former and the latter companies?
Was funding the difference? No
Or was it the government regulation? Certainly not
The answer you’re looking for is business agility.
“Wait, did you just say business agility?”
We know the curiosity has spiked up and to know jump on the next subheading.
Table of Contents
What is Business Agility?
What is Business Agility? It is a group of organizational capabilities, behaviours, and ways of functioning that provide your business the freedom, flexibility, and resilience to achieve its purpose, no matter what the future holds.
How can Business Agility help your business?
Business agility is the need of the hour because it helps organizations innovate and deliver on time. This helps in turning market disruption into a competitive advantage. By achieving agility you will be able to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers.
It helps infuse adaptiveness and responsiveness into every aspect of your business. Business Agility can be attained if the following checkboxes are ticked-
- Structural Agility
Structural Agility is developed when an organization can change structures to adapt to new opportunities with ease and with no impediments
- Process Agility
Process Agility requires organizations to modify their process to be able to deliver continuous value to customers. The focus here is on outcomes and products and not outputs and projects.
- Enterprise Agility
Enterprise Agility is the shield against competitive pressure, adapts to rapid changes in the market, and capitalize on opportunities while reducing costs. The jugular vein of the enterprise is the employees who are skilled and knowledgeable.
Benefits of achieving business agility
Call it advantages or benefits, there are positives of attaining business agility. Let’s go through the benefits, one by one.
- Challenge Management
One of the benefits of having business agility is that companies can adapt to the volatile nature of markets. They can counter threats and make use of opportunities without compromising on customer-centricity.
Since their organization has the advantage of structural agility, they don’t have to revamp their structure or go through bureaucratic hurdles.
- Competitive edge
Business Agility offers you the Midas touch called the competitive edge. Organizations can grab short-term opportunities giving them the first-mover advantage.
They have enough window to course-correct their mistakes and stick to their routine plans. This allows organizations to keep pace with their competitors.
- Cross-functional collaboration
Organizational silos have been a bane for organizations since time immemorial. Cross-functional collaboration between different functional teams is a magic bullet for organizational silos.
This ensures seamless collaboration and communication fostering creativity and innovation. Decentralized decision-making too is a perk.
- Increase in Productivity
Business agility is one of the by-products of an agile culture. When this culture becomes dominant, the turnaround time for products will reduce thus increasing productivity.
- Value Addition
A rise in productivity, boost in service and swift response to market needs all equate to value addition, decreased costs, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
- Develops a Growth mindset
In business agility, a growth mindset is developed. A growth mindset gives the freedom to individuals to learn and experiment thereby opening doors for personal growth.
With a growth mindset, they should be able to make decisions during difficult times. You experiment, fail fast, and bounce back quickly.
Process to achieve business agility
The process to achieve business agility isn’t arduous. That said, business agility isn’t an overnight process. It requires the confidence of the top leadership and other employees.
Hoping that everything is in place, here is a five-step process to achieve business agility.
- Revamp the organizational culture
The first step is to bring a change in the orthodox organizational culture. All the members of the organizations must be brought into confidence. It sure will take a lot of persuasions.
The top leadership needs to be made aware of the significance of business agility. When this is done, employees are given a free hand to experiment, learn, grow and fail.
In a business agility environment, there is no failure but faster recovery. A shift in organizational culture upholds growth mindset, ownership & accountability, and craft excellence.
- Incorporate multiple agile approaches
Companies need to be flexible and incorporate multiple agile approaches. This allows for an easy switchover according to the situation. A one size fits all approach will spell doom for projects.
The sooner the companies realize this, the sooner they are going to stop burning money. Each project has its requirements and specific needs.
- Train, guide, and empower employees
Business agility is a dream realized only when the core asset of your organization- the employees can understand and implement it.
There needs to be a change in approach at all functions of the organization. Right from hiring experienced professionals who have hands-on knowledge in various agile methodologies.
Learning and Development sessions can include training on agile skills and framework. Grooming agile leaders is important to create business agility. Agile project leader and agile coach will propagate agile values like collaboration, flexibility, speed, communication, and cross-functional structure.
The agile leaders should work with employees so that the outcome would be professionals skilled in technical, strategic, business competence, and other soft skills.
- Look, act, and assimilate
Organizations that have a high appetite for business agility are always in the action mode. They are not afraid of taking calculated risks and are open to experiential learning.
Super agile teams that incremental executions are better than one-shot executions. Every project should be a learning experience for the teams.
- Encourage consistent upskilling and innovation
Nothing is constant in the business world except for failure. Technologies are becoming obsolete in a wink of an eye. Organizations must always upskill in agile methodologies.
Organizations should prioritize business agility training and agile methodologies. Employees should be supported to pursue Certified Scrum Certifications, read books, listen to podcasts, and video tutorials. An agile coach will be able to help you in case of any roadblock or challenges.
Another way of learning is to learn on the job through customer feedback and market data.
Case Study: Why should business agility matter to your organisation?
Philips: Philips wanted to switch to Agile and incorporate an agile mindset into business units to cater to the needs of customer-centric environments. They choose SAFe as the scaling agile framework.
Here’s what Philips did-
- Build products in an Agile method while focusing on fundamental Agile practices i.e. Scrum
- Enable product ownership with a focal point applying scaling aspects using Scrum
- Construct a release pipeline with seamless integration which is automated
- Practice a DevOps culture with a focus on continuous delivery to the production environment.
The results were remarkable. It included-
- Reduction in average cycle time from 18 months to 6 months
- Feature cycle time decreased from 240 to 100 days
- Sprint and PI deliveries on time which prompt release on demand
- Quality developments which include zero regressions in a few business units
- On Demand five releases per train every year
Naveen Kumar Singh is an Agile Coach and a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), facilitates Scrum Master Training, Scrum Developer, Product Owner, Agile, Kanban, and LeSS Practitioners as well as provides agile technical workshops. Naveen is active in the agile community and participates in major events as a speaker and volunteer. He has also presented