An Agile Business is the New Stable Business

By | November 14, 2011


Once upon a time the quality of your organization was significantly based on the stability of the institution and how long you had been in business. Many organizations, from restaurants to financial services, would boast about being in business for 50 years. The financial meltdown of 2008 taught us huge, long-respected organizations that had an outward appearance of stability can be riddled with crumbling controls.

Penn State played its first game in over 50 years without Joe Paterno in a coach’s uniform. The stability of that organization was rocked in a scandal that grew into an inferno in a week’s time. Fifty-plus years of coaching success and stability eliminated by one questionable decision that didn’t break the law but was considered morally insufficient.

Banks have been increasing fees for decades with little fanfare except for some grumbling by customers. This time Bank America chose to roll back their most recent $5 fee on debit cards because of the outrage of customers finding a common voice in social media.

Consumers no longer care how long you’ve been in business or how stable you’ve been over the years. What they care about is how well you serve them here and now. Ask Research In Motion, who for many years had a loyal customer base for their Blackberry phones until something better came along. Smartphones quickly made the Blackberry a second-rate piece of technology.

The tide has turned on business philosophy. The pace of business, working on a global scale, the most informed customer base ever, and the continuous improvement of technology has created a shift in the business success model from stability to agility.

Where do you need to be more agile in your business? Consider these questions:

Are you fully utilizing the talent in your organization to be an agile business or are people being held back by structure, such as job descriptions and department assignments?

Are you missing growth opportunities because your organization doesn’t make “those” kinds of products or services? 3M never made sticky paper before Post It Notes. Apple never made music players before the iPod.

Where are you avoiding technology opportunities because the investment is perceived to be too steep or the risk is outside of your comfort zone or the disruption seems too great right now?

The organizations who are embracing the Business Agility model are those organizations who are serving the customers in the here and now. Look at the structure of your organization and ask with fresh eyes – Is this structure protection or a prison? The rules of engagement are changing.





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