The business world operates at a faster pace than ever before. As the quality of goods and services improves due to new technologies and increased competition, so do customer standards. If you plan on staying competitive over the long term, you can no longer afford to keep the same policies and procedures as you risk being overtaken by competitors who are better at adapting to constantly updating market demands. This reality makes the concept of organizational agility highly relevant for your business.
What is organizational agility?
Organizational agility refers to your company's ability to adapt to changes in its business environment and the markets in which it operates. Doing so quickly and effectively can help your organization stay relevant and tweak its business strategy based on updated customer expectations, new competitors entering the market, technological progress, and other similar challenges. Companies emphasizing organizational agility usually build an open work environment where employees are encouraged to collaborate and innovate. Some aspects of organizational agility are:
- Leadership agility: Decision-making processes play a vital role in your company's organizational agility as the ability to make quick and effective decisions can help it keep up with new developments. This often involves a flexible approach that balances a clear hierarchy with a certain level of autonomy given to key personnel.
- Business agility: This is arguably the main aspect of organizational agility, and it refers to your company's ability to build and sustain a flexible business model. Doing so allows it to adapt to new market trends, competitors, and technologies as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Career agility: Attracting top talent is crucial for your organization's ability to build and innovate. This often means helping employees develop as professionals and individuals and setting objective performance standards that motivate them to improve.
- Cultural agility: Your business doesn't exist in a vacuum, and its ability to adapt and react to cultural shifts can be a key part of its long-term success. Keeping up with societal trends can help you understand your clientele and find and attract top talent.
- Portfolio agility: Companies that sell multiple products and services often must prioritize resources based on various market factors. Being able to quickly shift resources toward more promising ventures can help maximize profits and sustain long-term success.
What are the main advantages of improving organizational agility?
Some specific benefits of prioritizing organizational agility for your company are:
The most obvious benefit is also the most sought-after by any company. An agile organization has the vision to identify new market trends and shifts in customer expectations and the ability to react to them effectively. Having a flexible approach to management allows you to update the way you're doing things quicker than your competitors, which can boost your market share and profits.
Adaptation to new developments
As an old saying goes, change is the only constant in life. That's certainly true in the business world as companies must face the harsh reality that the way they do certain things now may be less effective next year and may even become detrimental in the future. An agile organization anticipates and adapts to change and uses it to its advantage by making its competitors seem outdated.
Improved relationship between your business and your employees
An organization is only as good as its staff. Even with modern technology gradually taking over various business and manufacturing processes, it's usually the quality of your company's personnel that makes you more successful than your competitors. Employees nowadays aren't solely satisfied with having a job that pays well. They often look for an employer that listens to their feedback, values their work–life balance, and encourages innovation. Organizational agility helps you keep your staff motivated and engaged while reducing employee turnover, a major cost for a business.
Higher customer satisfaction
Having engaged personnel and constantly adapting your products or services based on new trends and innovations ultimately results in higher customer satisfaction. Many existing and potential customers stay updated with new developments in your business's markets, so showcasing your ability to keep up with these developments is likely to increase their loyalty. Also, building effective ways to communicate with your audience can make them feel a personal connection with your products and services.
"If you plan on staying competitive over the long term, you can no longer afford to keep the same policies and procedures as you risk being overtaken by competitors who are better at adapting to constantly updating market demands."
How to improve your company's organizational agility
Here are some ways to make your organization more agile:
Start with your people
You can boost your organization's ability to adapt to new developments and trends by hiring people with the correct mindset. Besides choosing new employees with the right skills and experience levels, consider selecting them based on how well they're likely to fit into an agile organization. Some key elements you can look for are:
- Curiosity and open-mindedness: Professionals with a natural interest in new developments and approaches in their field are more likely to help improve your company's organizational agility.
- Autonomy: It's important to find the right balance between a job candidate's willingness to follow company policies and procedures and their ability to function independently. When you don't have to micromanage every employee, you have more time to focus on the big picture.
- Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit: Some of the best ideas for moving the company forward are likely to come from your employees as they're the ones who interact with both products and clients daily. Having employees who are creative enough to visualize new ways of doing things and have the entrepreneurial spirit to implement them can be an asset to your organization.
Work on your organizational mindset
Everyone involved with your company needs to have a well-defined goal of constantly improving organizational agility without disrupting its practices. Successful organizations usually find the right balance between being agile and maintaining a certain level of stability. Making a conscious effort toward this goal can help you create a solid foundation for your business operations while still having enough flexibility to keep up with the times.
Have a vision for the future
Another effective way to improve your company's organizational agility is to have all your staff share a common vision for its future. This usually involves analyzing current operations, defining an ideal scenario for the future, and breaking it into smaller, more achievable goals. Besides helping you improve organizational agility, having a company-wide vision that all employees adhere to is likely to boost productivity and loyalty.
Promote collaboration between departments
A major hurdle for many companies in their attempt to boost their organizational agility is that their internal hierarchy limits interdepartmental communication and collaboration. A company management structure where each department focuses on its own operations makes it more challenging to constantly change and adapt at an organizational level. Each department head should understand that they are all part of the same mechanism and win or lose as a group. Having all business areas share common goals generally makes implementing company-wide changes easier.
Regardless of the field in which your company operates, business never stands still. Even if your products or services sell like hotcakes today, there's no guarantee they'll be as popular tomorrow. There are things you can do to get the odds on your side, and making a conscious effort to improve organizational agility is one of them. Accepting that change is inevitable and preparing for it is key to your company's success.
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