This month, we’ve been looking at ways to make ourselves more agile when it comes to how we do business. What do we mean by this? Well, in short, being agile is all about being proactive and open to change - while keeping a clear head and a firm, balanced footing.
In other words, by keeping one eye on everything you’ve achieved so far and how to sustain that, while with the other, you’re watching the market and your customers and reacting to changes – perhaps before they even happen.
But how can you incorporate this into your business or place of work? We’ve gathered 6 ways to help you be more agile in business.
1. Starting from the top: Traits of agile leaders
Whether you’re a business owner or a team leader, if you want to start making changes and bringing some agility to the workplace, you’ve got to begin with yourself.
It’s up to you to embody those traits that make agile businesses so successful. So, on top of everything we covered in the intro, we’re also talking about being more open and not closed off and protective.
Open to your employees or your team, to new ideas and changes and open to letting them organise themselves the way they best see fit.
Another mark of an agile business is the ability to move quickly and decisively. If you can lead business or team to best align with the market or your customers, you'll be in the box seat.
This is particularly true in this day and age, where uncertainty and disruption are commonplace. It’s those leaders and business that can turn these challenges into opportunities that are often best rewarded.
2. Spread out – How to empower your teams
Now you’ve got yourself into an agile mindset, it’s time to start rolling that out to your teams and making some changes to the way you all work together.
And, again, that begins with handing over more power to let teams and employees organise and manage themselves.
If this sounds a bit nervewracking (it does to many entrepreneurs!), don’t be alarmed. We’re not doing away with all accountability; we’re simply talking about giving employees space and confidence to be able to manage their own workload, play to their strengths and learn from their mistakes.
After all, you can’t be agile and still have time for micromanagement.
By giving people the freedom to implement their own improvements, you can help boost team performance, job satisfaction and encourage teams to work more closely with one another.
3. Collaborate – How to break down silos
So, having empowered our teams and gotten them onto our agile mindset, the next stage is to get all our different departments and employees out of isolation and working together. Because it’s difficult to be agile if we’re all siloed and not meeting or talking regularly.
One simple way to kickstart this may be to organising a regular catch-up meeting where each department is able to provide a brief update to the others. Another idea is to arrange live reporting or display of key performance indicators, which are a great way great of sharing what’s happening, be it at each stage of a project or across the business as a whole.
Where teams may need to be working even closer together, perhaps on an important project, these concepts could be relied on further. For example, as well as regular meetings, decide on short-term objectives for teams to work towards over the course of a few weeks or a couple of months. By arranging these so-called ‘sprints’, teams get to come up for air every now and again, see where they are and plot the next leg of the journey.
4. Experiment – Being creative and taking risks
In the same spirit of empowering teams and fostering collaboration, our next tip is to actively encourage a little bit of experimentation.
That could mean anything from investing in new hires, working with new technologies or embarking on new joint ventures.
A big part of being agile is being creative... charting a course for previously unexplored areas in the search for new success. Sometimes, we can be so afraid of taking unnecessary risks that we can be too slow to innovate and evolve.
This is why so many businesses end up getting left behind and going stale.
Of course, we’re not recommending that you spread yourself too thin or stake your business on every madcap idea that comes your way. We’re talking about taking more calculated risks, not being afraid to fail and, most importantly, learning what works and letting go of what doesn’t.
5. Continuous improvements – Adapting to and implementing change
We’ve touched upon this idea of making constant improvements throughout every part of this blog so far. This is because a major part of being agile is being able to embrace change, adapt and thrive.
We started by looking at how we could harness agility to improve ourselves and become better leaders. We emboldened our teams and employees – encouraging them to make changes as they see fit. And we’ve fostered collaboration and new ways of working that allow us to take the time to regularly learn, reflect and discuss what we can do better next time.
Now, we can look at putting all that to use by extending the same methods to our customers.
By using the agile traits we’ve discussed so far to continually improve the products and services we offer (including greater co-operation and collaboration with our customers) we can be confident that whatever we’re offering is right for our market.
6. Focus on value – Getting the best return on your investment
Finally, building on this drive for regularly making improvements and changes, we should always be asking ourselves how these changes are going to add value.
Whether that’s value for you as an employer, your employees or your customers, the benefits behind everything we do versus the amount of effort and investment required should always be front and centre in our thoughts.
And when a project begins to take up more resources and the supposed advantages seem to get fainter and fainter in the face of rising costs, this is the time when we cut our losses, reflect on what we’ve learnt and walk away.
It can be all too easy to get sucked into achieving the most perfect and elegant solutions when, in actual fact, we should be concentrating on delivering value first and foremost.
Whether you’re just starting out or scaling up, we hope you’ve found something in this post to take on board and incorporate a little more of into your business.
But whatever stage you're at, Farillio has the resources to help you – from interviews with founders and industry experts to our guides on how to get started, hire your first employee and get some investment and the templates to do all of this with confidence and ease. Take a look at our resources page to browse all of this and more, available to help all Farillio members become more agile in business.