Agility: The New Capacity of Organizations to Achieve Successful Outcomes

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Agility is the latest buzzword in the business world. But is it really a fad or is it here to stay? Before answering this question, let’s review some data:

In 2018 the most collaborative businesses tipped it as the main trend in the business world. Uber, Facebook, Netflix and Airbnb top the list of companies that have understood consumers and involved them in designing their user experience.

By 2019 technology is reckoned to continue to be the main accelerator and permeate throughout all spheres of life:

  • Augmented reality enables the generation of memorable experiences from mobile devices.
  • We will shift from big data to small and smart data, small enough to be accessed, understood and used in decision-making.
  • Artificial intelligence will be used daily, especially in voice interaction with consumers.
  • In 2020 all mobile devices will have biometric technology.
  • Over 80% of internet traffic comes from video.
  • Chatbots will be the protagonists of the customer experience, thanks to their 24/7 availability to consumers. For Pizza Hut, Ikea, Hubspot and Nordstrom, this technology is fundamental for their customer service.
  • Influencers (well-known personalities) and micro-influencers (anonymous people with influence in a specific segment) will be highly relevant for consumers to believe in a product or brand. According to one of the latest studies by IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), 85% of users follow influencers via social networks

In this scenario, there are many challenges for companies to provide an effective response to what the environment is generating. I could thus say that agility is not a fad; it is here to stay and while technology advances at breakneck speed, it will become a key factor for companies to be successful.


How to develop agility?

The concept of agility has to do with capacity, as in employees can respond quickly and appropriately to the information on the changes in the environment. Competitively too, because as organizations harness speed and response effectiveness, they become far more competitive than others.

The 2018 Gallup Agility Study  assesses whether people have the right mindset to respond quickly to business needs and if they have the right tools and processes to respond quickly to those needs. In France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom only 13.5% perceive their company as agile, 30% as partially agile, and 57% as non-agile.

Since earlier studies, indicators have improved; today companies have brought together practices that allow them to become more agile: use of technology as an accelerator, rapid decision-making, focus on simplicity, empowerment and confidence, freedom to experiment and innovate, collaborative work and greater openness to risk.

If you want to know how agile your organization is, these questions will help you identify the level you are at:

  1. Do you know what your customer wants and what he is willing to pay for your brand and product?
  2. Do you listen to your customer and involve them in the development of your products or services?
  3. Does your customer perceive high value in your products?
  4. Do you have more flexible structures in place for agile interaction and decision making?
  5. Are your processes simple?
  6. Are work teams empowered and can they do their work and more?
  7. Are there interdisciplinary teams from different business areas working horizontally?
  8. Do your leaders support error as a form of learning?
  9. Do your leaders encourage doing things differently?
  10. Do your employees optimize their work through practices such as working from home and flexible hours?

If you answered “yes” to more than six questions, then you are moving towards to agility. However, if more than half your answers were negative, it is still worth thinking about whether the way you are doing things will allow you to survive over time.

To conclude, I want to share my own definition of agility that may challenge you in the light of your experience:

“It is the ability of an organization to anticipate competition by quickly recognizing the opportunities in market changes and converting them into initiatives that are developed quickly and effectively, generating a return on investment”

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