Drivers for Enterprise Business Agility


If at times, it feels as if the pace of innovation and change is moving faster than ever, that’s because it is…  This reality isn’t a fad, it’s not driven by “performance enhancing drugs” or activist monetary policy.  It’s fueled by structural changes in how we as human beings are learning, collaborating, competing, and innovating.  Some of the key, high-level drivers of this reality include:
The Human Race is Learning Faster – A LOT FASTER…
At the beginning of the 20th century, the aggregate sum of human knowledge was doubling ~ 100 years.  Today, it doubles every 12 – 13 months.  IBM has estimated that with broad adoption of “The Internet of Things”, the total sum of human knowledge will double every 12 minutes in the near future!  While the sheer volume of data driven by ubiquitous adoption of new technologies can be in and of itself a challenge, it’s also driving new insights and competitive advantage for organizations that win at translating data into insight, and insight into value for customers.
It’s Never Been Easier to Collaborate Anywhere and at Any Time…
Innovation never sleeps in today’s globally connected, collaborative world.  Teams that are ideating solutions to complex problems are handing off overnight prototyping to partner teams halfway around the world.  These prototypes can then be crowdsource tested in another region as they’re ready for feedback and refinement.  As a result, highly adaptive firms are intensely compressing the innovation cycle and time to market for new products and services.  Success is no longer determined by great ideas and innovation alone.  Rather, it’s how many great ideas a firm can develop, which of them add real value to customers, and how rapidly can you evolve those ideas and concepts into “commercialize-able” products and services.
This is Driving Firms to Compete More Intensely Than Ever…
A casual review of the Fortune 500 over the past 20 years reveals a striking reality:  > 50% of the Fortune 500 Firms in the year 2000 are no longer operating as stand-alone entities today.  Former Accenture CEO, Pierre Nanterme, recently cited Digital Transformation trends, and the rapid pace of innovation it enables, as the primary driver of these seismic shifts in the global competitive market.  The flipside of disruption is that it creates tremendous opportunity for growth for firms that embrace innovation and adaptability and embed them into their core DNA.  Organizations like Amazon, Square, Netflix, Patagonia, and SpaceX are all reshaping their respective industries and rapidly evolving “What Great Looks Like” with their customers.
Barriers to Innovation Are Rapidly Diminishing…
The combination of accelerated learning, improved collaboration, and intense competition are fueling astounding levels of innovation around the world. Emerging technologies and practices are driving disruptive innovation across an amazing range of industries. Think Uber in local transportation, Airbnb in hospitality, and Spotify in entertainment.  In many industries, the competitive landscape is rapidly converging to a contest between small, nimble firms driving rapid, disruptive innovation, and larger firms with established brands, working feverishly to establish comparable levels of innovative adaptability.
Business Agility as the Primary Driver of Sustainable Competitive Advantage…
These trends are real, they’re here to stay, and they’re driving a need for new Ways of Working, collaborating, competing, and innovating.  This reality is leading Corporate Boards and C-Suite leaders to examine ways to accelerate and embed Business Agility into their core delivery models and culture. Defined as:
“The ability to adapt to change, learn and pivot, deliver at speed, and thrive in a competitive market”
Business Agility is emerging as the new competitive differentiator for 21st century organizations. In a recent McKinsey Quarterly survey, > 75% of the ~2,500 respondents cited enabling Organizational Agility as a “Top Priority” or “Top 3 Priority” for their organization. Fewer than 10% of respondents have completed a firm-wide Business Agility transformation, though, reflecting the early days and significant upside remaining for firms that successfully embrace Business Agility as a core driver of their future success.
Bringing Business Agility to Life:  The Enterprise Business Agility Strategy Model…
While the need for increased Business Agility is clear, the path to achieving it can be complex. Highly Agile athletes need to instantly process information, rapidly derive insight, continuously adapt their strategies and tactics, and execute in dynamically changing contexts. The same holds true for businesses, but with significantly larger scale and complexity. The Enterprise Business Agility (EBA) Strategy Model was developed to assist organizations in their Business Agility journey and help them develop these exact capabilities at Enterprise-scale.

Defining “What Good Looks Like” for Enterprise Business Agility (EBA)…
With the understanding that organizations are highly complex, adaptive ecosystems, Enterprise Business Agility efforts need to be approached holistically and iteratively. The EBA Strategy Model was specifically created to help organizations:

  1. Understand what “Good Looks Like” in terms of enterprise-wide Business Agility
  2. Clearly assess where they are today against EBA best practices
  3. Build targeted, transparent growth plans to iteratively close gaps in their current capabilities
  4. Articulate and align their top priorities at all levels of the organization
  5. Provide increased transparency and visibility into their key strategic initiatives, any “blockers” that need to be resolved, and their ultimate impact on the business metrics that matter most
  6. Develop and help evolve their most critical assets, their people and culture, to win in rapidly changing, disruptive, Agile markets

If innovation, adaptability, and speed to market are key competitive differentiators in your industry, Enterprise Business Agility needs to be a core focus for your organization. Please keep an eye out for our upcoming blog “A Deep Dive into the 7-Pillar EBA Strategy Model” for a closer look at its structure, approach, and key supporting tools.
As noted above, the need for increased Business Agility is clear, but the path to achieving it can be complex, driving the need for flexible, cohesive solutions based on proven best practices.
If you’re looking to embark on an Enterprise Business Agility journey, please contact us – we’re here to help!
By Jason Molesworth, Enterprise Business Agility Strategist
Photo credit: Josh Calabrese via Unsplash