Agility within your business begins at the top and being an agile leader is a skill that can be learned over time. It can be a tough transition as it involves stepping out of your comfort zone and accepting failures as an inevitable part of business. Most people’s natural reaction is to avoid failure at all cost but this can hinder progress and inhibit innovation. Without a willingness to take risks you can’t experiment or innovate. This limits your businesses long term ability to respond to change and adapt and you ultimately render your business unsustainable.
Encourage new ideas
Businesses who are able to adapt quickly and respond to new conditions, typically have a culture in which they advocate new ways of thinking and experimentation. This environment doesn’t just happen, it’s driven by the behaviour of leaders and man-
agers. Create an environment in which your people are encouraged to challenge established practices, try new ways of working or contribute new ideas. Embed a process to explore these. Fostering this type of environment enables you to launch new products and services more quickly – and is key to securing competitive advantage.
Technology drives change
There has been a shift to embrace new technology at pace over the last months, however, this has been out of necessity rather than a strategic move. New technology is often seen as a cost-saving measure but businesses should now look to tech as a way of modernising processes and ultimately a way of creating competitive advantage. It used to be risky for businesses to experiment with new technologies however, the climate has changed and customers are more forgiving for new initiatives not being faultless immediately. Businesses should take advantage of this shift in their client’s behaviour and experiment more with utilising additional tech in their business, if they don’t they’ll end up being left behind. It’s also important to remember that businesses that spend money on developing new processes or systems can be eligible for R&D tax relief.
One example of a business adapting to unexpected circumstances is G-Tech who are most well-known for creating the world’s first cordless vacuum. When the founder received a call from the government’s chief commercial officer during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, they moved from producing vacuums to ventilators overnight to support hospital demand. He began working on the project on Sunday morning and by Thursday his team were operating efficiently and meeting the basic specification.
The ability to adapt to market-changes rapidly and flexibly is when you know that your business is agile. The future will never be certain and we as business owners must plan for the unexpected. Working to build flexibility into every area of your operations is the only way a business can remain sustainable over a long period of time.
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