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Looking at the importance of business agility in times of crisis

Looking at the importance of business agility in times of crisis

As Covid-19 continues to spread across the globe we’ve seen how many companies have had to act quickly by launching crisis management plans and transitioning to a virtual workplace almost overnight.

But in times of crisis, like the one we find ourselves in today, what is it that gives some companies the ability to adapt quickly to ensure their survival?

The answer:  Business Agility 

Defined as the ability to rapidly respond to change, be it adapting products and services to changing customer needs or adjusting to changes within the business operating environment, it’s the “X factor” that sets a company apart from their competitors.  And while some companies are generally more agile than others, we’ve seen how the covid-19 pandemic has required even greater agility than ever before.

Research has shown that companies who are typically more agile place a high importance on:

  • Customer-centricity – i.e. Having an in-depth understanding of your customers’ needs & ensuring that these are top of mind in everything you do.
  • Cross-functional team dynamics – i.e. Building strong interrelationships between various teams across various functions to promote collective problem solving and task execution.

But further to this, other considerations that promote business agility are:

  • Understanding your employee needs
    The health & safety of your employees go hand in hand with your ability to continue any form of business operations.  We’ve already seen how companies have relooked at their office policies to support social distancing to minimise the risk of covid-19 infection, and how work-from-home policies and employee support are now receiving a lot of attention.  Now more than ever, employee flexibility is key, both flexibility in how people can get the job done as well as flexibility around company expectations, rules and regulations.
  • Focusing on emotional agility
    Different people process stressful scenarios in different ways.  Some will easily be able to keep a positive outlook, while others will be overcome with fear and uncertainty.  As an organisation, your role is to provide as much emotional stability at possible.  This is achieved by focusing your energy on drafting action plans, stimulating idea generation, and providing communication channels to not only share updates and information with your customers and employees but also to give them the opportunity to engage, share their fears and gain access to advice and emotional support.
  • Promoting a culture of innovation & failing fast
    Companies are facing some really tough questions right now:  How can we reorganise ourselves to continue day-to-day operations?  How do we keep doing what we’re doing in a world that’s likely never going to be the same again?  What other opportunities are there to keep meeting our customers’ needs?  Companies who promote innovation and are quick to try new things already have a leg up.  This is because they’re used to having to think outside of the box.  They also understand that ideas don’t always work and that this is OK.  Crisis situations require lots of new ideas and tons of bravery.  It’s the only way to establish your company’s “new normal”, whatever that may look like.

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