By Urvee Juneja
Today’s leaders are facing increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situations and environments. The world is constantly changing at an astonishing rate and with it, the needs of people.
Living in this era where change is the only constant can be quite tough and daunting. The growing digital revolution and constantly evolving macroeconomic outlook require organisations and leaders to be in a “Get Set Go” stage. This requires them to rapidly adapt, sense, overcome and shift gears to take meaningful and flexible actions. In essence, businesses of today have to be “Agile”. This is the new superpower for organisations to be successful in this VUCA world.
Business agility is a significant part of change that most organisations should have to ensure business success. Research shows that agile organisations have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organisational health, one of the best indicators of long-term performance. Business agility for an enterprise is measured by its organisational, cultural and leadership agility. It hence requires the entire organisation to understand and embrace agility and embed it at all levels through its culture. Simply put, agility enables an organisation to rapidly change directions to meet demands of constantly changing business environment, market conditions and client/stakeholder requirements. In order to achieve this, leadership must play a pivotal role.
Leaders need to be able to quickly adapt, respond and make faster decisions to allow their organisations to remain agile. They also need to play a key role in evangelizing agility and communicating its business value throughout the organisation. In essence, agility requires a mindset change at all levels of the organisation.
I always believe my results and performance as a leader are a function of my skills, my behaviour and my environment. My skills and behaviour define my ability to remain agile, nimble, transparent and partnerial as market demands change on the fly. I identify risks, propose solutions, constantly validate client requirements, collaborate with others and experiment with new ideas and processes. And my environment aka organisational culture allows me to practice these values and take meaningful and creative actions to deliver business values.
There are numerous benefits for organisations that are agile in nature. According to McKinsey & Company, an agile enterprise has been shown to increase efficiency, employee engagement and operational performance by 30 percent besides increasing the speed of change between 5 and 10 times. It also has a positive impact on the financial performance of the organisation by 15-65 percent.
Here is a snippet of some of the most important benefits of agility:
Improved customer experience
An agile enterprise can better meet its constantly changing customer demands resulting in better customer experience. Agility allows companies to quickly rejig priorities and create/modify products and services to create “customer delight”.
Allows for flexibility and experimentation
With the constantly changing market conditions, agility allows you to change your priorities even after you have set things in motion besides taking risks and experimenting during the journey. This approach allows you to rejig priorities on the go and capture feedback early on to better respond to changing market dynamics and stakeholder needs.
It keeps employees motivated
With agility and collaboration as the key tenet, brainstorming amongst teams makes them feel empowered. They take ownership and stay close to the whys and hows of the program. Empowered employees feel confident taking bold actions to support the volatile demands of consumers.
Allows organisations to anticipate change
Agile teams strive to anticipate industry changes so they can innovate rapidly and tap into new market opportunities. They review all available data, draw meaningful insights and steer their approach to adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the curve.
With a constantly changing business environment, business agility is instrumental. Organisations that have greater agility produce better business outcomes, add greater value for their consumers and are more effective in dealing with and anticipating changes.
I will end by quoting these beautiful lines by Adrian Slywotzky “The game of business used to be like football: size mattered. Then it changed to basketball: speed and agility. Today, business is more like chess. Customer priorities change continually, and the signals given by these changes are vital clues to the next cycle of growth.”
(The author is vice president of business transformation at Genpact. Views expressed are personal.)