You often hear the term agility in business. For example, if a business rolls out new invoice processing software, they may cite agility as a key reason for doing so.
Agility can be easier to achieve for startups and new organizations in many cases because they’re inherently more flexible. They don’t have as many ingrained processes and ways of doing things, and they’re not as traditional in their thinking and approach as more established businesses.
It is possible even for well-established organizations to become more agile, however, if they are strategic in doing so.
The following delivers an overview of agility in business, as well as information about its importance and how to build an agile organization.
What is agility?
You may hear different definitions for agility, but in general in business, it refers to organizations that are dynamic. An agile organization can move along with the changes in their industry and the world as a whole. There isn’t a fear of change and workflows are easily adaptable to change.
An agile organization is one that is stable at its core but can quickly change to meet any needs of the environment.
It’s often said that agility needs to integrate the ability to be dynamic, with speed and responsiveness.
To be successfully agile, the business does need a strong, stable foundation and that’s sometimes where organizations get it wrong.
Agility and innovation
Agility and innovation are two concepts that often go hand-in-hand. An agile organization is one that’s more likely to be innovative because they’re constantly thinking outside the box and the established norms and ways of doing things.
A lot of businesses will focus so much on attempting to be innovative, but they don’t think about agility. To have one, it’s almost always necessary to have the other.
Create a culture of agility
Even if you work to improve agility by introducing software and technology, and you create flexible workflows, if your culture isn’t one of agility then you’re not going to be a fully agile organization.
Employers need to work on making sure they reward those qualities and behaviours that exemplify agility. For example, being adaptive to change, creative and easily able to move along as change occurs are all values of an agile organization.
Company values need to be rooted in agility, and leadership needs to be fully on board and always working to promote agility. If leadership is stuck in the same traditional workflows and ways of doing things and they don’t provide employees with autonomy and a sense of flexibility, there’s never going to be true agility.
Self-organization is a concept important to agility in the workplace. This means that people come together as needed and in the ways they see as appropriate for the specific situation rather than following traditional workplace hierarchies. With self-organization, there is an opportunity for discussion as well as brainstorming.
Finally, sometimes a business isn’t able to be agile nor innovative because it’s so bogged down in the details. Rather than focusing so much on the unnecessary details, it can be valuable to focus on a few primary, critical objectives. These don’t necessarily have to be long-term. Often in agile organizations, the approach is more short-term when it comes to specific objectives.