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Small Businesses Strategies to Increase Agility

Posted on August 9th, 2019

The startup and small business community have always been a model for larger businesses when it comes to “agility” – the ability to remain flexible, make quick decisions, and prioritize efficiency and effectiveness. Agile businesses are better able to maintain stability during times of change and to make the changes that they need to be successful. What does it mean to build an agile business or increase your existing company’s agility? What are the trademarks of an agile business that small business owners should cultivate?

Agile Methodology: the Basics

As Consultancy.org explains, the agile approach “puts speed and autonomy at its core, advocating a process characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.” Originally pioneered by software developers and IT companies, “its application has gone mainstream across business domains” in the past decade, in large part due to the dominance of startup culture. In entrepreneurial spaces, agility means the ability to quickly shift directions based on what the market needs at a given time. But how?

McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and knowledge aggregator, highlights the five trademarks of agile organizations in a comprehensive report. First and foremost, they note that organizations are not machines – they are living, growing, changing organisms. Attempting to run a business as though it is a machine sets us up for failure, because in our rapidly-changing times we cannot count on achieving the same results by repeating the same processes over again. Even if we do, we may find that the market has shifted under our feet in the meantime.

Trademarks of Agile Organizations

McKinsey identified five attributes that make a business agile. They include:

Shared Purpose and Vision

Agile companies seek to create broad value for their customers and stakeholders grounded in a shared purpose and vision that guides decision making and creates customer loyalty.

Rapid Decisions and Learning Cycles

The ability to quickly make decisions, experiment, and implement the new knowledge that is gained is a major identifier of agility. By empowering teams to “work in rapid cycles of thinking and doing,” businesses can stay ahead of the curve.

Dynamic People Model that Ignites Passion

Leaders in agile organizations “are catalysts that motivate people to act in team-oriented ways, and to become involved in making the strategic and organizational decisions that will affect them and their work.

Next-Generation Enabling Technology

Agility is facilitated by technology solutions that allow employees to operate independently, pursue ideas, and communicate transparently across teams. When it comes to enabling collaboration, flexibility, and accountability, these tools are invaluable to small businesses.

Strategies to Increase Agility

Small business owners already have a lot on their plates, so remaking their processes to increase agility may seem like a daunting task. The good news is that there are simple steps to take that can begin to increase agility and trigger organizational growth and change.

The first step is to identify the shared purpose and vision that provide the driving force behind your organization and the products or services you offer. The key to using your vision as a motivating factor is to develop it with input from everyone who will be impacted by it so that your whole team is invested in its success.

Many leaders of small organizations are already embracing shifting models of work and employment to build a more agile workforce, including hiring freelance or remote workers and expert consultants. The flexibility, energy, and expertise that these workers bring can help businesses develop independent, scalable teams to meet their changing needs.

Adopting technology solutions that facilitate communication and accountability between teams is simpler than you might think. We’ve identified the top tech tools that can keep your team connected, and many of them are free for small businesses!

We Can Help!

The subject matter experts at e2E, LLC are committed to helping startups and small businesses grow by becoming a part of your agile team. We assist organizations along the path from entrepreneur to enterprise by offering our expertise in small business management, finance, hiring, IT, and more.

If you’re interested in building a more agile business or benefitting from an outside perspective, contact us today!


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