What’s so great about business agility?

Learn what it means to be able to sense and respond to change.

Around here we define “business agility” as an enterprise’s ability to sense and respond to change quickly and confidently – and as a matter of everyday business.

What does that mean, exactly, and what’s so great about it?

Imagine this:  

Your whole company–the dozens, hundreds, thousands of people who work there–are fully engaged in “sensing”.  They are looking around at the world by following social media, meeting with customers, watching the news, talking with analysts, attending conferences and more.  They see, each from their own perspective, and sense opportunities and threats.

They can recognize opportunities and threats–they can sift through all the information–because they are looking from a place of context.  They understand the company goals and strategies, because the leadership team, through communication and through regular cadences, has provided clarity on those things.

That clarity has cascaded throughout the organization so that each person knows what that strategy means for his part of the business–product dev, marketing, services, finance, engineering, sales, customer support, everyone.  For example, if I’m in customer support, I know that in support of a Customer Love Strategy, we’re trying to focus on resolution over call times.  The product dev view of that strategy means we are focusing the current quarter on top-requested features.

From that context, every single person is engaged in sensing opportunities and threats–to save money, to make money, to avert danger/risk, to find the gap in the market where we can solve customer problems in new ways.  It could be as small as a customer service team realizing they are duplicating work by researching the same problems again and again, or a tester learning about a new technology that would speed automated tests.  Or, the sensing could be as big and critical as discovering new, disturbing patterns of customer disengagement, or seeing a new market we should enter.

Now imagine this:

Having sensed, your organization is healthy enough that it can respond effectively, without huge re-orgs or heartaches.  

It can respond because you have established cadences throughout the org that are explicitly designed to review what’s been done, examine the current state, and adjust and commit to priorities. Being ready to change is built in, on a cadence that reflects your environment and your work.

You can respond because your org is a network of high-functioning, small, cross-functional teams that you can flow new work through.  Your T-shaped people aren’t interchangeable as cogs, but teams can be flexible. They are flexible in part because people are committed to the big picture rather than to their narrow silos.

And in particular you can respond because everyone can see their customer at the center of the work.

Wouldn’t that be so great? It’s completely attainable. Stay tuned to this channel to learn about how real companies, including ours, have been moving toward successful business agility.


“A firebrand of wisdom, tempered by practical application …”—that’s how colleagues describe Ronica, our services…

Comments

  • Good stuff. I especially like piece about sensing and responding, and the important point to recognize the small and large patterns.

rewrite

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