How businesses can move with constant shifts

How businesses can move with constant shifts

Embedding agility is a good solution but plan and communicate the initiative carefully

For many businesses, the effects of recent events have been brutal. Uncertainty looms while our economy, businesses and people are facing major shifts. While the situation has forced us to change our usual ways on an individual level, this ultimately affected businesses and the way we work. With consumer behaviours shifting, businesses need to find new ways to do business, fast!

So how can businesses effectively move with the constant shifts we’re seeing these days? The answer lies in agility. Agility is the ability to adapt to changes with speed. In fact, agility is about moving with change. We cannot wait until change affects us; we need to act before that to keep ahead of the game.

While agility has become a business buzzword, it remains relevant in our situation. However, the problem most organisations face with agility is that it never sticks and just doesn’t work out. Eventually, we fall back into our usual ways. But when that happens, and the environment around us changes faster than we do, we get left behind. We struggle to keep up.

There are many reasons why agility might not work for some businesses. Here are some of them, and some tips on how you can counter them to drive your business forward through uncertain times.

First, most organisations rush into implementing agility initiatives. Yes, agility is all about speed, but it doesn’t meet ignoring mistakes and failures that can be foreseen.

While speed is key in agility, it is not the only important aspect of being an agile business. Proper strategy and planning, and transparent communication across the organisation is equally important. Without a proper strategy or transparent communications, the people in the organisation will not know what direction to take, and before long they will go back to their usual ways, reasoning that at least the old ways worked for them and this new way didn’t

Second, on top of rushing into implementation, organisations expect quick results once they integrate agility in their organisation. The problem with this is that agility isn’t a quick fix for underlying organisational problems. Its real purpose is to support people to keep up with change and help them adjust to change better.

That’s not to say that agility cannot help in fixing problems in the organisation, but seeing the goal of an agility initiative as fixing problems can be a road to failure.

This brings us to the third point: Many organisations seek agility only to solve problems. Agility doesn’t necessarily solve problems, but it helps organisations see current and potential problems and figure out new ways to effectively overcome them.

Fourth, many organisations rely too much on others’ success stories and try to learn from them. While learning from the successes of others can be valuable, each company’s success story differs. Even those in the same industry and business as yours might offer great learning points, but each business has its unique qualities — especially organisational culture — that can make certain lessons irrelevant. Organisations can still learn from success stories but will need to experiment on their own to find what works best for them.

Finally, some organisations limit agility initiatives to certain teams or apply them only at operational levels. For agility to work, it needs to be embedded into the company culture. This means that agility needs to be integrated in every aspect of the business from operations to top management.

Without integration throughout the entire organisation, agility won’t work. If some teams or business units integrate agility while others remain the same, being agile will stop within the team or unit.

With all these seemingly tough challenges, why would organisations want to even implement agility? The answer is in the external changes around us. We cannot control what happens outside but what we can do is prepare ourselves and our people to ensure we can brave the challenges together.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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