Future Planning: Keep Your Business Agile in a Changing World

The world is fast changing. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many companies to re-evaluate and re-align priorities to the new economic realities. These changing market conditions require that companies are more responsive and deliver increased value to their customers. Companies need agility to survive and take advantage of opportunities evolving from changing business conditions.

Drivers for organisational agility

Why is agility so important? Findings in a 2009 study carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) still remain the same in the current turbulent economic environment. Organisational agility is critical for business success; quick decision-making and execution is vital for the company’s survival and competitive standing.*

Peter Weill, the director of the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), explains: “When I was a kid, the most successful companies were monopolies or duopolies, but in today’s globalised, free-market environment, the ability to satisfy customer expectations is core to profitability. If you’re not agile, you can’t do it, because customer expectations are never static.”*

Making your business more agile will make it be able to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently without losing customers or revenue.

When planning for the year, if you set out a yearly plan and work towards the end goal, companies tend to focus solely on a strategy or end goals, but rarely is the ‘how’ assessed or short-term quarterly goals set. This means the company can get stuck or does not respond to the changes within society and technology quick enough. Most companies realise the need for change when they review and assess past performances while competitors are penetrating their customer base with innovative technologies and business models.

Ways to make business more agile

Think big – act small. Managers tend to miss red flags until it is too late. Have a yearly plan but then break it down into quarterly targets. This means that as changes happen throughout the year, you can adapt and respond quickly to these changes, without it affecting your overall business plans for the year. Having a clear breakdown of your strategy will provide a straightforward, achievable plan which will help you achieve your goals.

Do not let communication and teamwork lapse. By having a morning team and business catch up, for example, you will be able to review what went well the day before, what could be improved and ways to move forward, ensuring your business is performing to its maximum potential. This also helps communication throughout the company and individual teams, which will create a more engaging, cohesive, and responsive business.

People often see volatility and change as something beyond their control. Set your priorities and plan for the unexpected. Setting a to-do list is the perfect way to ensure that the work that is the most critical tasks are completed in an efficient, timely manner. It allows you to see clearly what your priorities are and how to get the most out of your time and resources. Being organised also enables you to be prepared for the unexpected, which means that as you have planned and looked at all possible outcomes, including the potential challenges, it will make it easier for you to deal with it as a company.

Automating processes and consolidating systems to support the strategy and the targets is a great way to ensure your business is agile and easily adaptable. Automated processes and systems will free up your employees’ time from the smaller routine tasks that can be actioned by RPA and AI systems, and their focus’ can remain on working on more innovative and value-added tasks. However, if RPA and AI technologies are implemented, you should hold reviews and surveys for feedback and see how they are benefiting your business through analytics. You will also have to allow time for training and to settle into new processes.

What next?

As the world is changing fast, every business will benefit from becoming a more agile and efficient running company. This is also something you can implement gradually. As well as this, knowing what you want to accomplish and determining your final goal, is an excellent step towards achieving a more agile working environment.

*Glenn, M. Organisational agility: How business can survive and thrive in turbulent times.  Economist Intelligent Unit (2009).
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