Is your business agile enough to cut through in a cluttered market?

The posters on the walls of Facebook’s London office to remind staff that “done is better than perfect”, a quote attributed to founder Mark Zuckerberg, is aimed at inspiring workers to make progress quickly.  In fact, speed is recurring theme at Facebook where ‘move fast’ is listed second after ‘Focus on Impact’ as one of the company’s 5 core principles.

The idea that companies need to be agile to innovate and grow is not a new one.  However, it is as relevant across all business practices today as it was when it originated decades ago to bypass unproductive development activities to bring software products to end users more quickly.

A survey by business support solutions company Mindshop identified ten key capabilities which business leaders will need to succeed. Respondents to the survey, who were business leaders and advisors from around the world, highlighted the need for their organisations to balance stability with dynamic capabilities to respond quickly to changing market conditions. Business agility was listed as a ‘must-have’ competency for business leaders to cut through in a cluttered market.

Customer lifetime value is a key metric for long term business success.  To stay relevant, innovate and continue to add value year on year requires leaders to not only be responsive to change, but for the culture of the entire organisation to have the ability to react quickly enough if they don’t want to miss the boat.

None of us can afford to be caught napping. Take, for example, my own business.  Changes in accountancy practices, most notably the rapid growth in cloud accountancy software, have forced accountancy firms to re-think how to position their services by identifying new ways in which they can add value to clients.

The winners will be those with the mind-set and structure to not only keep pace with market challenges as they arise, but have the strategic framework and organisational agility that allows them to lay tracks further up the line.   The losers will be those trapped in a state of analysis paralysis, where time is spent reviewing different potential outcomes before taking action, and is likely to leave them behind market developments.  And things are moving quickly. No sooner had accountancy practices adapted to cloud accounting where they were the intermediary in the process, than the software firms changed their sales strategy to target businesses directly.

In response to its survey findings, Mindshop has proposed three strategy ideas to test business agility which I recommend to any business leader. Firstly, carry out a capability audit and identify what you need to improve to stay relevant. Secondly, ask how you can re-invent your top five customer relationships to add greater value and potentially increase their spend with you. Finally, achieving growth will force changes into your business and keep your customer relationships fresh. Being agile is not about bending over backwards to keep customers happy, it’s a way of working that will keep your business relevant in the marketplace.