In the past, big business was vertically integrated and relatively rigid. It was hard for a big oil, or a big steel firm, to suddenly adapt and change it’s business model to market conditions. In fact, that’s part of the reason why we’ve seen such devastation in these industries. Getting big business to change its practices is difficult.
The future of business belongs to those who are able to adapt. Whether we like it or not, the world is undergoing unprecedented change. The speed and the scope of technological advancement is greater than ever before. And to many analysts, it appears to be accelerating even faster.
This has huge implications for business. Firms that are rigid will find their sales declining and their business models going out of date. Companies that are agile will take advantage of new ways of working and remain profitable. Which type of business do you want to be? The agile business, of course.
The following are just some of the things your business can do to stay agile in today’s rapidly evolving market.
Agile Companies Value Responsiveness Over Efficiency
Getting unit costs down as low as possible has been a staple of business for over a hundred years. But commentators see this old paradigm fading away fast. The businesses of tomorrow won’t be so focused on efficiency. Instead, they’ll be doing all they can to improve their responsiveness. What will matter going forwards is how quickly they can get new product iterations to market. This means using enterprise application integrations to reduce friction to the flow of information. It also means using data in intelligent ways to construct better products – products that people want.
Agile Companies Don’t Seek Control, They Empower
The difference between a controlling company and an empowering one is how they interact with their employees. Big businesses are hierarchical, authoritarian and rely on reporting. Startups are anarchic, empowering and value individual decision making.
Going forwards, more companies are going to have to behave like startups to remain flexible and agile. Formality in big businesses is their biggest enemy because it stifles innovation and progress. It’s why companies like Google continue to innovate. They have a genuine startup culture, despite their enormous size.
Businesses who want to be agile should spend time with their teams and make it clear that they’re able to try new ideas and make decisions. If you can’t trust the people who work for you to do that, then you’ve probably employed the wrong people.
Agile Companies Value Intrinsic Motivation, Not Extrinsic Rewards
Two basic things motivate people to work hard and do well: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Companies offer their employees extrinsic rewards through pay packets and bonuses. But as pay rises above a certain threshold, these rewards become steadily less meaningful. What people want from their work more than anything is a passion and a raison d’etre. If employees are passionate about the company and what they do, they’re more likely to stick with it through change. Agile companies, therefore, are businesses that focus on employee engagement.