“Being agile”…how does that fit in with business?
Let’s start with a definition of agility. In sports, agility is defined as “the ability to move and change the direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while in control.” Business agility is defined as the ability of a business to “adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment.”
The Canadian Marketing Association 2013 B2B conference on November 6th focused on creating an agile business. It was a full day of presentations, case studies, and panel discussions on a variety of topics including lead generation, transformation management, content development, and measurement. Ultimately, it boiled down to three key areas a company must embrace in order to be competitive, relevant, and responsive today:
- Embrace change. Jeffrey Hayzlett delivered an impassioned keynote presentation about the need for change in organizations. We fail at change because we fear it. It causes tension and means we have to take risks and test ourselves. When we don’t embrace change, we miss opportunities and lose sight of what the brand and company is all about. Being agile means not settling with the status-quo – customers don’t, so neither should you.
- Put process before the technology. Ally Motz of SiriusDecisions Canada Inc. indicated that process needs to be in place before the technology (i.e. marketing automation). Mike Hicks of BlackBerry echoed this sentiment stating that it’s not about marketing automation – it’s about the content, the strategy, and the management behind it. Agile businesses can be successful with the right strategies and processes (who, does what, when and how) in place – the technology is there to make it easier…not do it for you.
- Invest in people. A company is only as agile as its people are, and agility stems from how engaged your employees are. John Wright from the Canadian Management Centre stated that only 27% of the Canadian workforce is highly engaged, with 50% moderately engaged. Engaged employees are those that connect and align, both emotionally and intellectually, with your company and customers. Create engagement by being specific in your expectations, clearing the path of potential obstacles, and making work meaningful for your employees. Ultimately, engagement means greater employee productivity, better customer service, higher revenues and profitability.
Being agile doesn’t mean your organization needs to be small. Even the largest organizations can be agile organizations. It just takes a lot of commitment from everyone to not fear change, to create strong processes and to invest in their people.
Do you have an agile organization? What are your best practices?