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It's Time to Make Your Organization Agile

Most businesses and organizations are aware of the need to become more "agile," but struggle to understand exactly what that means and (more importantly) how to make it happen.

What does your organization need to achieve greater agility?In many organizations “agile” seems to be the new buzzword. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of those using the term would give you a blank stare when asked to define agile especially in a business-wide context.


So what is enterprise agility? One definition for it would be the ability of an organization to move and adapt quickly in response to shifting customer and market needs. Generally, it means being more adaptable and more responsive — and this should not only apply to businesses but also to professionals.


The reason behind enterprise agility? It’s actually very simple. Most of us, organizations and individuals alike, need to transform how we work — or even our whole business model — in order to survive and thrive in today’s disruptive world. And not being able to react to disruptions could have disastrous consequences.


Sounds very bleak? Don’t worry, not all is lost.


What are the benefits of going agile?


The acronym VUCA is very often used to describe the current dynamic and fast-moving world we find ourselves in. VUCA was introduced by the U.S. Army War College in the late 1980s as an acronym to describe the more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world at the end of the Cold War. This concept has now also been adopted by senior leadership within organizations as they try to navigate today’s constantly changing environments


The main cause of change nowadays, the main disruptor, is technology and the tech-shift. And technology is everywhere and affects everything, both our work — suppliers, consumers, services — and our daily lives. This tech-shift means that society has moved through three phases:


The Tech-Supported Phase: This refers to previously manual activities that are now carried out with support from computers, e.g. customer details are no longer written down by hand, but are typed into a computer database.


The Tech-Enabled Phase: In this phase, manual activities have been improved by automation. One example of this would be that customer emails are sent automatically and are based on previous interaction or purchase history.


The Tech-Centric Phase: In this phase, activities only exist because of technology. That’s what the future will be.


The tech-shift has its advantages and disadvantages. New technologies have made it easier to enter new markets and therefore offer new opportunities. The gig economy, remote working, cloud storage — those are all possible because of new, disruptive technologies.


But the tech-shift also means that it’s very easy to be left behind. Being innovative isn’t enough anymore. We all know the story of big brands that have lost their competitive advantage for not accepting change and looking ahead — think Blockbuster or Kodak.


Today, you have to embrace new technologies and make them part of your daily business or the same might happen to you and your business.


How not to do it


While many are now aware of the need to be responsive to disruptors, very often their approach to change is counterproductive.


What will not work is a forced top-down approach or a lack of buy-in from the whole organization. If you try this, people will resist as they simply won’t understand why they should change.