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Building an agile business is not easy, but it’s worth it. Organisational agility is one of the most sought-after characteristics of a business today, and this tendency doesn’t show signs of slowing down. In a market environment continually developing and incorporating new technology, agile companies and teams have had a great degree of success. Their ability to adapt and pivot quickly has made them highly competitive and resilient.
For an SME, there is no good reason not to work towards building an agile business. The organisational structure and culture tend to be more fluid than in an enterprise, and there are many advantages that companies can enjoy. An agile SME has the potential to be more flexible, more innovative and more efficient. The team will have an easier time prototyping, experimenting and transitioning to new projects. These qualities can mean the difference for an SME to survive in a competitive market.
So if you’re thinking about building an agile business, you’re on the right track. This article covers some of the challenges business owners face when trying to implement an agile mindset, along with some recommendations to avoid them. Read on and get in touch if you’d like specialised help from our team.
Most of the challenges SMEs struggle with when building an agile business are related to organisational culture – the established behaviour and conventions present at work. Because an agile company proposes a new way of doing things, the old way must be transformed, and old habits are replaced with new ones. These are some of the obstacles you may need to clear:
Building an agile business requires effort and buy-in from all influential people in the company. This could be a major challenge for a company with an established culture and longtime employees. People who are satisfied with their current roles, responsibilities and the overall “way of doing things” can often be resistant to change, which is a considerable obstacle to implementing an agile mindset.
Organisational politics and social dynamics play a big part in this. Therefore it is essential to study how this change will affect your business and prepare people’s expectations and get them on board as soon as possible. The change will have much more effect if it’s coming from several influential people in the business, rather than just the C-board.
In a risk-averse culture, the resistance could be even higher. Agile businesses are known to reduce the time spent on the planning phase to improve testing and execution. Risk-averse individuals and companies will typically require all the information they can get before making a decision, which differs from the agile mindset. To get your team to be more comfortable with risks, they must understand that failure is not punishable and that experimentation is encouraged in your business.
When building an agile business, your team needs to be free to make some decisions on the fly and have a certain level of autonomy. If every decision has to be approved and taken to management, this will inevitably slow things down and undermine your adaptability.
Empowering teams to make decisions seems to be the way forward. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has great advice for leaders trying to figure this out. He says every business decision can be categorised as a decision “type 1” or “type 2”.
A type 1 decision is one that will be irreversible, and requires strategic planning, investing and a significant amount of effort to implement. A type 2 decision is easily reversible and can be implemented quickly, with little budget and effort. Most business leaders treat every decision as a type 1 decision and should learn to identify type 2 decisions and leave them to their teams. This article explains this decision-making style with more detail.
Departments in a business could have different priorities, and that creates friction and hardens the implementation of an agile methodology – among many other things. If your sales team is told to sell to anyone whatever it costs, your customer service department may have to deal with several unhappy customers and resent the sales department.
People should be operating towards a shared goal in the business and should not be afraid to collaborate and contribute to each other’s work. This is key when building an agile business, and any information silos between departments must be dismounted.
If a specific individual or unit in the company is solely responsible for innovation, they can become disconnected from the central business and lose sight of the company’s vision and mission over time. When this happens, the innovation team may start to define its purpose in ways incompatible with the main business, which is why innovation should be decentralised and incentivised for all employees.
You’ve learned about the obstacles you may face when building an agile business, so it’s time to explore the practical steps to turn this dream into reality. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, and different agile methodologies may have their own processes. These insights come from this article published by IESE Business School and hopefully will provide more clarity to make your decisions.
This alludes to an organisation’s ability to detect, identify and assess the opportunities and challenges presented by changing conditions and support informed decision making.
For example, if there is rapid technological development in a sector or the impact of consumer and social factors is difficult to predict, it’s essential to effectively “sense” exactly when there’s a need for change and where innovation or adaptation is most needed.
Shifting is the ability of an organisation to adapt internally to fit the demands of its external environment, like a supply chain crisis. Agile companies can shift their resources and their outdated working methods when needed. The most flexible organisations are those with this type of agility.
Securing refers to the ability of a company to mobilise the resources required, both internally and externally, to capitalise on opportunities. As the company grows, this may become even more challenging.
Although large firms are endowed with many assets, they often struggle to support new initiatives while staying focused on today’s critical issues. As a result, they either tend to limit access to resources or dilute the impact of their changes by starting on too many competing initiatives.
Building an agile business may not be easy, but it can get more manageable with the right help. Hiring a specialist allows you to avoid some of the most common pitfalls and access valuable tools to facilitate collaboration and innovation.
Technology plays a vital part in an agile business, as it will allow your team to gain speed, efficiency and track your activities to be continuously improving. Our team knows the best tools for file sharing, integrating apps and accessing cloud resources. You’ll be ready to access world-class technology while our security tools keep you safe from cyber threats.
Book a call today to talk to our engineers! Our team will be happy to understand your needs and offer a tailored solution.
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