Pivoting to the new normal with business agility

COIVD-19 has upended our world and pushed organizations big and small to reimagine their strategy and rethink their solutions for the now, next and beyond. Yet, some companies have maintained not just business continuity, but have swiftly adapted to this new reality by strengthening their innovation, leveraging digital capabilities and executing with speed. Business agility appears to be the mainstay in the survival toolkit of all these thriving businesses who are leading the path to the new normal.

So, what is business agility, and why it is so important now? Defined simply, business agility is nothing but operationalized flexibility which supports organizations to respond quickly and effectively to changing markets circumstances. As we make sense of an era of unprecedented changes, an agile business framework is the best bet to think fast and move first to stay competitive.

Business agility when thoughtfully executed throughout the business can help organizations to step up their game and confront current and impending challenges. Here are six focus areas that organizations can invest in to unlock business agility through this pandemic and come out stronger:

1)Be customer-centric: Keeping customers at the center of everything is an age-old nugget of business wisdom. Reimagine your customer playbooks to match their evolving needs and realign resources to suit the demand.

For this, try to understand how COVID-19 has impacted your customer to craft customized insights and solutions. But, don’t just wait on customer inputs on what they want; tap social media listening and other data sources to gauge markets trends and competitor’s response to create insights for what they will need next.

2)Break away from siloed top-down planning: The massive impact of this pandemic has proved that our regular business continuity planning is somewhat redundant.

To operationalize changes more effectively, bring in cohesive empowered voices from across the business working with a singularity of purpose. Also, skip the once a year business planning in favour of iterative, frequent recalibration of business plans to rethink future direction, potential growth areas and resource allocation.

3)Let data be your guiding force: As you move toward iterative decision making, employ data to aid traditional business instincts. Data driven business insights will be the best judge of the performance of your processes and resources so you can test and realign, as often as needed.

4)Treat employees as co-collaborators: Employees feel much more empowered and engaged when they are innovating and are closer to customer impact. Focus on creating a network of informed and empowered teams with clear responsibilities and accountability that are involved in not just execution but the idea shaping process.

5)Rethink talent management: To ensure that your teams are ready to tackle the unknown that is ahead of them, aggressively identify upskilling opportunities to help them become the trusted business advisors your customers need them to be. Also, proactively engage employees in how you are planning to move past this challenging time and elaborate on the role they need to play. Visibility into the next and beyond, will encourage self-directed learning and growth.

6)Leverage the new ways of working: Remote working was already a viable option for many industry players, and the pandemic has built a fertile ground to scale this capability to 100%. Use this to your advantage to hire from diverse locations in India and across the globe to bring in refreshed ideas and ways of thinking.

The post COVID-19 world will be a place of perpetual change and will need permanent tweaks to how we operate and go to market. Focus on rigorously prioritizing current customer needs, but also continue to plan and strengthen your long-term strategy by embedding agility every step of the way.

Simply put, as we wade through the pandemic with the hope for a vaccine soon, the accelerated pace of demand from clients will continue to push organizations to change rapidly and deliver faster. Being agile will help organizations operate through an organized, sustained chaos that can result in path breaking solutions that stand the test of the next normal.

Author: Sreekanth K Arimanithaya — Global Talent and Enablement Services Leader, EY Global Delivery Services
Please Note: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent the firm’s views.’