Business agility is the new norm

When we discussed agility a year ago, we were focused on the market: Can our company handle new privacy regulations? The end of cookies? What is the shift in retailing habits?

The market has changed. There’s a global shift of priorities, not just privacy legislation or cookie-free advertising. Supply chains are flattened, people lose their jobs, some borders close, then reopen, then again close.

What impact has it had on your business and your client’s businesses?

How flexible are your product plans?

Have you and your team responded quickly to market needs while maintaining your end goal?

Which practices will you continue to follow when the pandemic is over or endemic and we learn to adapt to it?

Business agility has never been more important. Each of these facets is crucial to the success of your business.

Business agility and time

How effectively do you use your time now that you have probably saved hours in your commute and days on travel? How flexible is your team in managing their time?

I was surprised to discover how much my life used to be disrupted after working remotely in 2020. I was wasting time on internal meetings, traffic jams, traveling to clients’ offices, or simply chatting in the kitchen.

We use our newfound time in ways which, at first glance, appear to be wise. We fill the hours with activities that prove to be highly productive for our business but may also prove counterproductive over time.

How? Instead of letting ourselves sit, think, or collaborate, we use these hours to accomplish tasks and check items off our to-do lists.

It may seem like a wasted time to sit and think, but what other way can you come up with brilliant ideas and strategies for your business? How can you create the space for innovation?

It’s better to spend some of our time on mundane tasks, collaborating with others, or staying away from your daily routine to allow new ideas to germinate.

Business agility and collaborative work

In the past, you might have had several offices that met annually for an “all-hands” event. Face-to-face meetings were restructured or even eliminated this past year. In the past, collaboration across offices was difficult. However, groups could use a conference room or huddle space to work together on projects or brainstorm ideas.

We’ve now gone from limited geographical interaction to no interaction at all. We put into practice many of the lessons we learned on how to work with people in different locations when we were forced to shelter. Even in companies that have offices across the country and employees who work remotely, communication between workers has been severely affected.

It’s easy to talk to people that you work with every day, but those who listen to these conversations are the ones who miss out. We’ve always taken it for granted, but this is a real business challenge.

Listening to sales conversations or other collaborative discussions among managers or senior colleagues can be beneficial for newer employees and members of your team who are less experienced. They can learn more about the company’s culture, the nuances of an industry or niche, and specific details about clients.

They also miss out on networking opportunities with other professionals in the field; they do not get to build lasting relationships with people outside their immediate team and clients. It’s not as big a deal for us older team members, but it can be a problem for newer ones. It is, therefore, more difficult to align people with the business’s objectives.

We must be aware of the fact that communication is fundamentally different today. To keep everyone on board, we need to provide virtual network opportunities. Some companies rely more on messaging apps, while others have employees who use Zoom, Meet, Slack, Teams, or Slack all day long with their cameras turned on.

To stay connected and aligned, we need to figure out what works best for each of our organizations.

Business Agility and your Product Road Map

Some businesses, while focusing on agility as a business strategy is important, lose sight of their end goal.

It’s important to strike a balance between being able to react to the market, i.e., being able to make changes to your business model and remaining committed to a long-term goal. An organization needs to know where it is going in the long run and not let short-term decisions disrupt its direction.

I wish I could have a crystal ball to give me the answers. But I think most businesses are stuck in a short-term planning cycle. We are myopic and focus on the immediate rather than planning for the future. We still have long-term objectives but are planning to execute in the short term and take the market temperature for the next step.

In the last three years, my company has been hit with curve ball after curve ball in the ad-tech space. The General Data Protection Regulation of the EU, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and the sunsetting of third-party cookies all brought uncertainty to the ad tech industry.

Some businesses have shut their doors forever, while others have ceased operation in certain areas. Others have thrived. Although we’ve always had a long-term view, we must be flexible enough to respond to market changes. It’s important to know your destination, but the way you get there may need to be altered.

COVID has had a similar impact on the business in certain ways. Certain verticals that we serve have seen a significant drop in activity but are slowly returning to their former levels. Some verticals thrived because of the large number of people online. This gave us insights into new audiences, their behavior, and future planning.

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