Why Business Agility Is More Critical than Ever

  • Categories:

    Strategy

  • Date:

    July 15, 2020

Why Business Agility Is More Critical than Ever



Strategy

Agility is not a new concept. As Albert Einstein once said, we must “learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” But the professional and personal applications of agility are multiplying — and becoming more critical than ever.

What is business agility?

Business agility references an organization's ability to:

  • Adapt quickly to market changes, both internally and externally
  • Respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands
  • Adapt and lead change productively and cost-effectively without compromising quality
  • Continuously be at a competitive advantage

According to the Business Agility Institute, “traditional models … are failing to keep up with the needs of the modern economy.” And “change, both technological and cultural, is occurring faster than ever before. In this climate, modern enterprises will live or die on their ability to quickly adapt. As a result, companies are (looking) for ideas to innovate, reduce costs and remain relevant in a changing market.”

What does it mean for companies right now?

Now, consider businesses’ need for increased agility in 2020. In a less volatile environment, we may have taken more time to ponder our approach to an issue, problem or opportunity, tapping into market research on top of years of collective experience and knowledge to make decisions impacting our shared future.

Instead, in these uncertain times, our ability to move quickly and rely more heavily on gut instinct has become paramount. Businesses are facing daily and even hourly shifts in the status quo via news updates, social media posts and stock market reports. Frankly, there is no status quo. Instead, we must simply keep making our next best chess move, staying ahead of the information feeds as much as possible in order to capitalize on our wins or, sometimes, mitigate our losses.

Wray Ward’s clients in the home and building products categories are being forced to adapt to many new home-centric dynamics, as more people spend the lion’s share of their time there. Since the pandemic started, we’ve worked with brands to reinvent their approach or pivot in some way to stay ahead of the unpredictable environment.

VELUX® skylights smartly launched a virtual design consultation service this spring, a massively popular move and a major contributor to recent success. Wray Ward helped the market leader in skylights and roof windows educate consumers about the new service, integrating it into VELUX’s whyskylights.com and supporting it with organic and paid social support, Google display and paid search, influencer integration and a dedicated virtual design blog post that was integrated into content amplification.

Similarly, curbside pickup for consumer customers of our Floor & Decor retail client has become a new business delivery model. Together, we worked quickly to shift the brand’s advertising messaging to focus on this offering.

This spring, TOTO WASHLETs quickly became more relevant among domestic consumers. While continuing to advertise, the brand has focused on tactics that position it as the best in the category and a creative solution to a supply crisis.

In the meantime, we have been collaborating with many of our home and building clients dealing with offshore manufacturers, supply chain slowdowns and pent-up demand to increase their emphasis on customer communications and e-commerce initiatives, both direct and through partners such as Amazon and big-box dot-coms.

Want to move to a more agile business model?

Here are a few examples of questions leaders in any category or business vertical should consider:

  1. Does my organization genuinely understand the power of an agile environment?
  2. Does our culture encourage agility? Have we empowered every department to think in transformative and innovative ways?
  3. Does the leadership team focus on agility as a means to remain relevant in an ever-evolving marketplace?
  4. Can we institute regular check-ins to identify better ways of working and collaborating among company divisions?
  5. Is my company structured to move in a fast and more nimble manner? What changes can I make, both short- and long-term, to migrate to agile as an operational philosophy?

In one sense, this isn’t a new challenge. History reminds us that society has always had to adapt to shifting landscapes. However, we are now facing worldwide events that are forcing us to reinvent everything we once knew as normal. And the pace of change? It has never been so swift.

That’s largely why agility plays a leading role in our quest for survival. Every word we say and decision we make (or help our clients make) matters. Meanwhile, the domino effect has become more random. Staying connected and germane to the times is equal parts exhausting, exhilarating and challenging to our emotional and intellectual abilities. Personally, I am rethinking everything — from conducting business to running my family life to managing a financial portfolio.

Remember Einstein’s wise words? The physicist may have been gone for 65 years, but his advice still rings true. Because to become truly agile businesses, teams and team members — to continually improve — “must constantly question what could be better.”

Things are not going to slow down anytime soon, or maybe ever. A transformative, adaptive approach is critical. Flexibility is a new mantra. If your company has not yet embraced agility models, now may be the perfect time to scale up your efforts. Need help determining your next move? Email me.

Explore more articles from Wray Ward.