The workplace has been a place of innovation and change throughout history but now, with the ever-increasing pace of technological development, even more is on the horizon.
Most business leaders now accept that change is a constant in modern business and that being nimble, responsive and change-ready is key to commercial success. Consequently, it has given rise to a new way of organisational thinking and working – agility.
Greater agility is the highest priority for UK businesses according to the Modern Workplace Report 2018(1.) and it’s easy to see why – data shows that agile organisations have better organisational health, higher employee engagement and improved productivity, not to mention they have the infrastructure, processes, tools and skills to tackle change as and when it occurs.
Agility refers to a business mindset focused on delivering operational efficiencies by building dexterity and resilience into every aspect of operations – from management behaviours and strategy, through to workplace culture and design, the technology in use and the processes in place.
The need for greater agility is particularly pressing as a wide range of drivers put increasing pressure on businesses to think differently as they strive to remain relevant and competitive and to survive. There are countless examples of businesses that have failed to be agile in the face of change and Kodak is perhaps one of the best known. The once powerhouse brand of the 1970s and 1980s eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after short-sighted decision-makers failed to capitalise on their invention of the digital camera and missed the opportunity to reinvent the brand in line with changing consumer demands. Kodak was complacent, unwilling to change and without strategic creativity. Quite simply, it lacked agility.
Organisational agility can help to address five of the biggest pressures felt by UK business leaders today and provide the right mindset, tools and processes for success in a fast-moving digital age. They are:
Such is the pace of advancement that technology is perhaps the biggest driver of all. From mobile devices, which made it possible to work anywhere, through to new virtual reality and machine learning tools changing the very act of work and the arrival of super-fast 5G, which will support even greater use of the internet of things – technology is both an opportunity and a threat. The next generation of technology has the potential to dramatically overhaul how businesses operate, how they add value to their customers and how they use human endeavour. Improved organisational agility makes it possible to harness new tools and technologies with ease, thanks to inbuilt flexibility and innovation.
The importance of people
The proliferation of technology has helped to put people-power into the spotlight. There is increasing focus on investing in and nurturing the employee experience in a bid to attract and retain talent, forge loyalty, unlock extra discretionary effort and drive productivity, and that means catering for their needs. Changing employee expectations are putting more pressure on employers to offer choice and flexibility – be that in relation to the hours they work, the locations they work from or the tools they use. Agility makes that possible and is a direct response to the universal view that happy, healthy, engaged and valued employees are both loyal and productive.
Heightened global connectivity & competition
Competition in most sectors is now global and access into new markets is easier than ever thanks to new technologies. Consequently, businesses have to work harder to protect their operations – something that can be aided by having agile systems and procedures in place to respond to changes as they happen.
Addressing the productivity gap
The UK is behind its European neighbours in productivity terms, which requires businesses to think differently about how they approach people management and innovation. The answer of course is to invest in skills which, as new technologies irrevocably change the role of human endeavour, becomes a new business priority. A commitment to agility is an investment in finding new ways to streamline operations, build efficiency into working practices, harness new technologies and put people power to better use.
Responding to environmental consciousness
A groundswell of environmental consciousness is also a key driver for agility as businesses, employees and consumers realise the importance of reducing our impact on the living world. Thanks to smart buildings, the internet of things and increasing automation, it is now possible to deliver process efficiencies and provide the tools to do just that – reducing the reliance on paper and other consumables, minimising the need for travel and monitoring and changing behaviours in real time.
Agility is the methodology, tool and mindset needed to tackle these commercial pressures head on and to invest in the longevity of business.
The benefits of organisational agility are clear. Being able to flex and adapt quickly allows businesses to better meet changing customer needs and expectations; to boost innovation and bring new products and services to market quicker; to improve the employee experience – which translates into greater engagement and productivity; to enhance the customer experience and to improve revenue growth and secure greater financial stability. Agility is the new commercial imperative.
Discover how Agilico can support you on your agile journey on our agile working page.