Business Agility: How to Thrive in a Shifting Economic Environment

As the economy changes and customer demands shift, different factors can hugely impact a company’s product and service management. If a company wants to stand out and scale, its ability to be agile is what will push them to thrive in any market.

Steve Newhall, managing partner of Korn Ferry, a talent consultancy firm perfectly defines what an agile leader is: “CEOs with agility adjust, adapt, respond and are resourceful in the face of change.”

Business adaptability is still the best way to be competitive.  84% of businesses state that innovation is important in their growth strategy. This pushes CEOs and teams to constantly find ways to be innovative if business continuity is to be sustained.

Be open to digital insights and new technologies

With how much the digital age has taken over, businesses from all over the world are now taking their companies online. Technology has revolutionized the way CEOs run their company—from managing operational needs to communicating with both staff and customers.

Altimeter, a company that focuses on technological trends research and strategy, found that 51% of companies are pushing for digital transformation due to growth opportunities. Furthermore, 41% is caused by competitive pressure—proof that technological advances now play a huge role in a business’ success.

This is because keeping up with the digital age can lead to various advancements for a company. In a Digital Transformations Survey conducted among 128 executives, 40% reported that technology improved operational efficiency. Meanwhile, 36% stated that they were able to market their products faster, while 35% believes that their digital transformation was the reason behind their ability to meet customer expectations.

Adapt to customer’s current needs

While each business has different values and motivations, driving revenue is the core of every venture if it is to be sustainable. One of the best ways to ensure that company cash flow continues to flow is to listen to the market and provide them with their demands.

The importance of social listening in business agility is further made apparent by the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on both small businesses and established enterprises. Almost every business has been hit. However, others still found a way to thrive—all because they listened to what the people need.

In China, businesses saw the importance of self-service as a way to adhere to social distancing protocols. This led to innovations such as face mask vending machines, designed by virtual reality tech company Topow, and Alibaba’s unmanned grocery stores.

McKinsey suggests that in times of crisis, listening to customers via social media is more effective than basing on surveys. It’s the best way to listen to real-time customer preferences and trends, especially during a time when a surge in online usage can be seen.

Align with the team

For a company to thrive, its leader and members should be working towards the same vision. This is why many experts highlight the importance of hiring the right people. Mark McClain, author of Joy and Success at Work: Building Organizations that Don’t Suck the Life Out of People, states that a candidate’s ability to align with a CEO’s goals is an insight into how self-motivated they are.

Moreover, McClain also stresses the importance of looking for a candidate who is willing to grow with the team rather than simply hire who can get the job done. This can be a testament of how adaptable they are as a person and hints about how resilient they are with future changes.

Developing an organization that places importance in learning and upskilling can also lead to business adaptability. Experimentation can maintain a steady influx of new ideas and the ability to systematically assess previous failures can help companies distinguish what may work and which strategies won’t.

During both trying and thriving times, business agility is an ability that any company should be aware of. The economic environment is ever-changing and an agile leader’s capability to adapt to new technology, to listen to customer needs, and to align with his team can be what makes or breaks an organization.

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