What is business agility?

Business agility is the inherent ability of an organisation to respond to change.

Can you think of a business that has gone bust? Woolworths, Toys ‘R’ Us, Poundland? There are loads of them out there. These days it’s not just making a profit, but also survivability that matters.

People cite all kinds of reasons for a business failing. Strong competition, the economy and even the weather, amongst many other things.

The reality is that it’s almost always the business’s inability to respond to change that kills it. A rapidly changing technology landscape, rising customer expectations, increasing competition and shortened times to market make it very hard to compete.

Many businesses want to respond to these pressures, but simply can’t do so. They know they are in trouble, but somehow can’t organise themselves to react.

Quite often it’s simply down to how the company is structured that gets in the way. Instead of being organised around product lines, companies are built to support administrative areas, like marketing, sales and fulfilment.

The issue here is customers don’t buy company departments – they buy the products the company makes. This leads to decision making being convoluted and slow. There’s a lack of ownership of the products and direction is administered by committees with political loyalties to colleagues, instead of direct representation of the users and their needs.

The rapid pace of change in our world is still in its infancy. All the evidence points to change becoming faster and faster so it will become harder and harder to survive as a business.

The lean and agile tools and techniques are great at helping businesses change how they are structured, work, think and operate – but they all fall under the wider umbrella of business agility.

To get the latest information on (UK) businesses that have gone bust this year, have a look at this link.

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