How to Achieve Business Agility in Six Steps

For the past six months we’ve been talking about the concept of business agility. And maybe that’s been the problem – it’s so much more than a concept. 

 Business agility is a strategy that gets companies to focus on improving their ability to sense and respond to changes in the marketplace.

You can’t click a mouse or open a browser without reading about some disruption in business today. For the most part, these well-funded disruptors are penetrating the tech space, with other targets being financial services and mobile media. The point is, while you’re sitting in your conference room working on your plan, someone is out there executing theirs. 

An agile business connects everything back to developing products that customers value. Business agility done well aligns the key stakeholder groups in organizations to smartly build the right products along the right timeframe.  An agile business has the single mission to help the company sense and respond to change and share an enterprise-wide understanding of what’s needed to compete. 

 Unlock Business Agility in your organization with attention to six key business capabilities 

These six capabilities are the foundation of business agility and are expressed in the Business Agility Manifesto. The manifesto outlines the key attributes a company must embrace to compete both today, and in the future.

1.    Focus on customer outcomes: Agile businesses create, test and validate hypotheses to make business strategies and investment decisions, because they know market success requires challenging their assumptions.

2.    Engage in Market-minded collaboration: These businesses are heavily invested in iterating on external market plays and internal improvements, because they are more about maximizing external customer opportunities than getting things checked off a list.

3.    Operate as a customer empathetic organization: The organization’s functions, authority, talents and interests are wholly invested in building competitive advantages for external customers and as a result, functionally insular, self-preserving tactics are abandoned for open and transparent collaboration.

4.    Pursue Hypothesis-generated value: These companies relentlessly gather external customer and market data before and after the launch of a product or service and use it to validate the initial idea and/or further investment, while also using it as a source for generating new ideas.

5.    Calibrate business capabilities: Employees of these companies are willing to put themselves and their ideas second when someone of equal or lower position within the organization has a better idea, and quickly find ways to support it for the growth and improvement of the organization and the customer relationship. 

6.    Operate as a human-centric organization:These organizations have both leadership and product development teams linked whereby everyone has a hand in strategy and product development. Multiple stakeholders have a meaningful ‘idea shaping’ experience with the target customer and not just the solution.

As a result, agile businesses have a clear vision of customer value across IT and the business and have mapped key value drivers and linked them to validated KPIs. In essence they’ve merged business and technology missions to reflect what success looks like by demonstrating measurable customer value.