The term 'business agility,' refers to a set of distinct qualities which support a business to respond rapidly and positively to market changes while maintaining quality, safety, positive momentum and remaining aligned to purpose and vision.
As described by the Business Agility Institute, at it's simplest, business agility is the capacity and willingness of an organisation to adapt to, create and leverage change for their customer's benefit. In essence, business agility is an operating model that promotes adaptability and responsiveness in every area of a business - it acknowledges that an organisation is a complex system and that being adaptive and agile is everyone’s responsibility.
The Business Agility Institute has created an infographic which aptly describes the twelve interacting domains that encapsulate business agility, which operate across four dimensions, all centred around customers. Each domain is as important and as necessary as the others and they are all interrelated (see below).
Further information will be shared in upcoming articles about each of the dimensions of business agility. However for now, it is important to note that the customer is at the centre of everything. This is also known as a business being 'customer centric' which should reflect company's purpose, vision, values and culture.
Beyond the customer in the diagram, the gold coloured dimensions show various relationships that are imperative for a high performance, agile business (and are dependent on the role and type of business concern, ie: NFP, private or public company, charity, etc. These include workforce, Board / Shareholders and Partners. All of these relationships are essential to being able to deliver value to your customers.
Around the outside of the diagram, the three dimensions of 'Leadership;' 'Individuals' and 'Operations' are displayed. 'Leadership' is the domain which governs how an organisation is shaped via 'people management,' 'teams' and 'strategic agility.' 'People management' is how the role of a manager as a leader is defined and relates to how they engage, empower, delegate, coach, and inspire their staff. The 'Team' aspect highlights that a culture of collaboration, supported by highly effective communication and transparency is necessary. 'Strategic agility' shapes how an agile business sets, communicates and implements new ideas, approaches, etc.
The 'Individual' domain is how an agile business delivers value. This is achieved by taking a growth mindset and promoting experimentation and learning from failure with all staff. 'Craft excellence' refers to the techniques used to deliver high-quality work, regardless of function or subject matter. 'Ownership and accountability' is about motivating individuals and teams to take responsibility to deliver results and be part of a healthy culture.
The final dimension around the outside of the diagram is 'Operations.' This demonstrates how an agile business works in terms of the relationships between individuals and teams. 'Process agility' is a term that encompasses the combination of discrete activities that are undertaken by teams and projects. 'Enterprise agility' is the way to scale the 'agile way of working' across the whole business which is supported by the organisational culture.
Due to the many interrelated dimensions and domains of business agility, it can be described as a dynamic and continuous evolution of culture, people, and skills rather than a one-off change event focused on only one or two domains. The diagram shows you how to build an agile high performance business by ensuring that all dimensions of the business are attended to in an agile way.
Culture is the expression of how people inside and around your business interrelate with all the agile operational, leadership, and individual elements. If any aspect of any one domain is changed, the culture will also change. This is why change management is so important and necessary for success. Transformations often fail when companies only focus on transforming processes (process agility) or organisational structure (structural agility) but omits to consider all the other dimensions of the business, causing it to be unbalanced, which impacts culture. Read more about Change Management in our earlier blog.
To be truly agile, businesses need to treat the customer as an integral part of the business system rather than treating them as being separate to the business. #lovethycustomer!
There is also a big difference between “doing” agile (using agile practices and methods) and “being” agile (having an agile mindset). As you can see from the diagram, a business needs to do both to be successful - as many unsuccessful transformation programs can attest, doing either on their own will lead to failure.
Would you like to learn more about how you can grow or improve your business and build a high performance culture by being more agile? If so, contact John or Deb at Business Agility Pty Ltd. We are your partners in business and leadership success.