How genuinely agile is your business?

By Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions
We all hear people saying that they are agile and able to make rapid changes within their business; some might even say that they have heard many businesspeople boasting to that effect. However, if challenged, how genuinely agile are you, your business and importantly, your team members?

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine, Summer 2021
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In my last article,  I talked about the importance of culture and this ties in perfectly with running a business that is genuinely agile. It is extremely easy for the senior management team or business owner to have great ideas and make rapid decisions on implementing those ideas immediately; fast decisions and agreed actions are great.

However, they will fail if the people responsible for putting those innovative ideas into practice are not on board with the decision, or indeed, they lack the required ability to do so.

Equally, when helping businesses in distress, it amazes me how often I find that when speaking to the workforce, individuals instantly offer up suggestions for change and when asked, can amend working practices to adopt those changes overnight. The result is that the majority of these changes have a dramatic impact.

Yet, when I originally spoke to the business owner or management team about the ideas, they would say that it wasn’t possible, practical, or cost effective to make such changes. So, empower your team and encourage them to be forthcoming with suggestions. Then allow them to try them out and action positive changes quickly to maximise opportunities.

Being agile opens up opportunities

If you build a team and culture where everyone can recognise an opportunity, even if it seems impossible, you can often find yourself with fantastic prospects. One famous example of a massively successful win versus a disastrous failure is Netflix and Blockbuster. Initially Netflix was a mail order DVD rental business, and their main competitor was Blockbuster. However, recognising that technology was advancing rapidly and taking a gamble that streaming services were the future, they completely changed their business model to a home streaming service. Everyone from the top down bought into the concept and worked together to produce the solution, unwind the original model, and move forward with their new model. This then adapted further to making programmes and films. Just look at them now and compare them to Blockbusters.

Being agile can save the day

Bear in mind, that it will not always be plain sailing and as with everything in business, some ideas will work, whilst others will not..

If something does not work, fast decisions and acting quickly to put alternative ideas and contingency plans into practice, still requires and benefits from being an agile business. It is no different to a Winger in rugby repeatedly hitting a brick wall of a defensive line; using all the agility and speed at their disposal, only to get repeatedly stopped, until the one move they make gets them through some space and under the posts.

The point is, embrace ideas from throughout your organisation, and listen to your team members at all levels about what is, or is not possible. Never make assumptions about capability and be flexible. As is often the case in business, persevere and keep running at that defensive line, until you break it down and find your way through.

Kevin Ward is Director at Conatus Financing Solutions.
T: 01473 851587 E: kevin@conatusfinancing.solutions 

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Business finance solutions

Specialists in business financing and corporate banking relationship management.

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