Competitive Strategies That Will Increase Organizational Agility
An Executive’s Guide to Better Decision-Making
How Agile Companies Gain the Competitive Advantage
In just the past two decades, half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared from the list. In 1965, corporations on the S&P Index stayed on the index for an average of 33 years. By 1990, the average was 20 years. And by 2026, the average tenure on the S&P index is expected to drop to 14 years. Market disruptions and a hyper-competitive global economy have hastened the decline of many household brands. The difference between Kmart, Borders, and RadioShack and their more successful counterparts—Walmart, Barnes & Nobles, and Best Buy—may center on their organizational agility, or the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions, foster innovation, and continually reinvent themselves.
“The stakes for business leaders are high – a wrong investment could put your firm out of business; make the right move and you’ll vault over your competitors.” Forrester
So, why are some companies able to adapt so quickly? The answer is that they embrace and prioritize organizational agility—in culture, in processes, and with the technologies they choose. They are agile not only in respect to changing markets and customer demands, but internally they are prepared to address crises, changing roles, evolving goals, and new business offerings. They can collaborate and make decisions from anywhere, at any time, and do so at a moment’s notice.
The solutions and technologies that enable the agile enterprise include rapidly deployed meeting rooms, video conferencing and collaboration, content sharing, data visualization, and team-based tools with real-time communication features like multiple media sources, instant messaging, and threaded conversations. These kinds of tools improve decision-making by immediately connecting people to each other and to real-time information.
An agile business can gain the competitive advantage in terms of responding faster, being more productive, getting to market faster, and responding more quickly to customer feedback and needs. Implementing organization-wide agility initiatives can result in “60 percent higher revenue and profit growth.”
So why aren’t more companies agile? Many organizations have made agility a goal but struggle to achieve it in all areas of business across the organization. Business leaders know they want their companies to be more adaptable and more efficient, resulting in lower risk, better customer satisfaction, and more profitability.
In this guide to organizational agility strategies, we’ll share insights about improving decision-making to gain the competitive advantage. Learn more about:
- Creating Conditions for Better Decision-Making
- Choosing Technologies That Enable Agile Decision-Making
- The Agility Secrets of Top-Performing Companies
- Deploying the Solutions That Work with Your Conditions
- Getting Users to Embrace the Tools of Agility
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1. Creating Conditions for Better Decision-Making
Executives and managers may agree that the ability to make decisions quickly is essential in today’s organizations if they want to remain competitive, but that awareness is not enough to make it happen. They must FIRST create the conditions that allow instant information-sharing so that teams can make decisions on the fly even under changing circumstances.
The conditions organizations need to create to best enable real-time information sharing are:
- A culture of collaboration. By focusing on people, organizations empower team members to access, share, and act on information as needed. A collaborative mindset, though, is not a part of every employee’s training or background. To encourage a culture of collaboration, include active organizational support as part of efforts to become more agile.
- Flexibility of spaces. Creating meeting and collaboration spaces that welcome spontaneous work and impromptu meetings is an essential part of enabling agile and flexible work. Enabling mobility and flexible working conditions means teams can work whenever and wherever necessary, especially when timing and responsiveness matter. This is achieved through real estate agility and strategic technology investments.
- Digitization of processes. Removing manual communication methods from your processes speeds up information-sharing, removes silos, and improves visibility for all stakeholders.McKinsey identifies “accelerating digitization” as a disruptive trend among evolving organizations. The companies that digitize faster increase transparency, improving access to and distribution of information, boosting their competitive position.
- Support of modern work styles. Supporting today’s work habits and modern communication methods means embracing transparency, allowing employees to work flexibly, and taking advantage of social networks or other team-friendly platforms.
Optimizing conditions to improve agility ensures that the information being shared across your organization is accurate and up-to-date so that teams can make fast, data-driven decisions while taking real-time changes into consideration.
2. Choosing Technologies That Enable Agile Decision-Making
To create the optimal conditions for agile work and responsiveness, you need solutions that support collaboration, flexibility, and digitization. When you unify communication tools and make data accessible from anywhere, employees can collaborate and get work done whether they are in the office or on the go. Essential capabilities include local and remote:
- Video conferencing. Video conferencing allows team members to immediately collaborate regardless of location. Whether via web or room systems, the solution should be customized for an organization’s specific needs. Video meetings are 73 percent more likely than audio meetings to end on time, and attendees absorb the information 40 percent faster than when attending audio meetings, according to ZK Research.
- Real-time communication. Chat and presence enable agility by presenting the opportunity for collaborators to determine the availability of team members and jump onto chat with them without the need for an invitation or turning on any equipment.
- Content sharing. Instant chat or conversation is most useful if you can also share detailed information at the center of the discussion. By establishing conditions in which meeting participants at any location can share documents, images, and presentations with every other participant, your organization is supporting informed decision-making.
- Data visualization. To make the most informed decisions, teams should have a way to examine, compare, dissect, and analyze all that information. Interactive and immersive solutions allow participants to take in, understand, and respond to the information more quickly. Solutions like Oblong’s Mezzanine—an immersive collaboration tool that engages remote and in-room participants—allow users to manipulate data to see it in the most relevant and useful format and context. Once teams have are able to fully process and visualize information, they can act on that information immediately and confidently.
“Collaboration has improved with this technology. It gives you live-time feedback and you can see the person that you’re talking to, and you really can course correct immediately then.”
Senior Manager, Operations, 7-Eleven
Collaboration technologies prevent bottlenecks in decision-making processes and allow you to digitize time-consuming manual project management to get teams on the same page more quickly. They enable real-time actionable plans.
However, even though nearly 100 percent of organizations already use collaboration services, there are significant gaps in how they are used and how well the technologies work with each other. Collaboration tools should work from any location, with any device, and for any user. Many comprehensive collaboration solutions are simplifying integration, but simplicity is only one factor in choosing agile tools. These solutions must also support innovation and play nice with other tools, while maintaining security. The bottom line is the technologies must enable all stakeholders to join a call and share information for real-time decision-making, no matter where they are or what device they’re using.
3. The Agility Secrets of Top-Performing Companies
Fortune 500 companies and other top organizations are making agility a priority. One trend among modern companies is the “constant introduction of disruptive technology,” according to McKinsey. By staying atop of collaboration solutions that shorten decision-making cycles, they keep up with—or ahead of the competition. Top companies are also taking an agile approach to all their collaboration, whether it be with internal teams, partners, vendors, or customers.
For many modern companies, customer needs change constantly. This is true for 7-Eleven, so to keep up, their employees need the ability to quickly react to those changes with impromptu collaboration and quick decision-making. 7-Eleven leadership knew their busy teams needed agile conference spaces at the Store Support Center where employees could quickly meet without having to worry about getting the collaboration technologies to work. With integrated video conferencing, wireless microphones, control systems, and more, employees have the tools they need to work together effectively, whether they are in the center or in the field.
Atmosphere Commercial Interiors is another company that wanted users to be able to easily connect to technology in meeting spaces and get straight to work. As workplace designers, they have many clients visiting their headquarters, and it was especially important that their spaces be comfortable, flexible, appealing, and facilitative of work without fuss. Their solutions included numerous displays, conferencing tools, microphones, speakers, and control systems. The mobile-friendly atmosphere facilitates agility and invites everyone to work in their own style, on their own terms.
The secret held by many top companies is that they don’t try to control how their employees work. Rather, they find the tools to support the ways employees want to do their jobs. That way, everyone can work intuitively, eliminating resistance and paving the way to faster results.
Another benefit to the agile work environment is that it attracts talent. Top performers want flexibility and the freedom to innovate, and an agile work environment offers both.
4. Deploying the Solutions that Work with Your Conditions
When deploying solutions that create an agile environment, it’s important to ensure they work with your organization’s existing conditions and technologies.
To unify your systems—whether they be a mix of new and legacy or from variety of vendors—you want to strategize the implementation well in advance. This starts with an assessment of your existing tools, spaces, and processes. How are employees currently handling ad hoc collaboration? Where do they go, which tools do they prefer, and which challenges do they encounter?
Common collaboration challenges include finding an accessible but private space that contains the right technologies and getting collaboration equipment to work immediately. Solutions like the Symphony monitoring and management platform can address those issues, and working with a strategic partner can help you determine the capabilities you need in your spaces based on type of room, the most common uses, and the type of work being done.
Here are some important considerations when deploying technologies that facilitate agility:
- Existing technologies. How easy will they be to integrate?
- Mobility. Do they support flexible work and work with mobile devices?
- Number of users. What is the average size of your decision-making teams?
- Locations. How many locations will use this solution, and will the needs vary by location?
- Attitudes. Are employees open to change and learning new technologies or should you enlist the help of champions when deploying?
The right technologies for agility vary from organization to organization. Space plans, legacy technologies, and work preferences differ by company and often even between departments within an organization. Starting with a solid strategy will keep implementations on track to support your agility initiatives.
5. Getting Users to Embrace the Tools of Agility
Adoption is often a challenge with new technologies even among employees who work in flexible spaces and within a culture of collaboration. The challenges are usually not caused by user stubbornness but by how difficult they are to use or other issues. ZDNet research demonstrated that in addition to sometimes struggling with smart technologies, users are often disappointed in the results. This could result in skepticism with future implementations or in frustration with how deployments are handled. Most survey respondents said they use smart office technologies, with video conferencing apps being the most common.
To improve adoption results, take these steps:
- Get their buy-in. Ask users for input during the early phase of the decision-making process by surveying them on their needs and evaluating their current work habits. Then share information on the decision and on how the new solution will improve agility and efficiency, and generally make work easier.
- Make it easy to use. This begins with choosing solutions that are intuitive and user-friendly, but it also means providing adequate training and support. Standardizing solutions and user experience across spaces means users won’t have to learn too many new technologies.
- Ensure the technology fits. Making sure tools integrate with the technology they already use and love will make for an easier transition and increase the level of adoption. It should also work with users’ mobile devices whenever possible.
- Help them feel comfortable with it. Some forms of collaboration do not come naturally to everyone. Beyond basic training, provide additional support in helping users feel comfortable being on camera, speaking in groups, and launching video calls with remote participants and networked content.
The goal is not just for employees to use a new tool but for them to take full advantage of all its capabilities. That not only maximizes ROI but makes work much more agile.