Does Your Company Have What it Takes to Be Agile?
Becoming an agile company doesn’t mean doing yoga, stretching out, and hitting the gym. Although, those aren’t bad habits to have. Being an agile company is having the ability to see opportunities and act on them. It’s creating opportunities where none may seem obvious. It’s having clarity around the influences and trends that affect your business.
What characteristics should you have to be agile, or to be more agile than you may already be? From my observations, I see three main attributes that agile companies have. They are in touch with the markets they serve. They know their business inside and out – the numbers, the people, the good and the bad. And finally, they have a clear sense of direction and urgency – they make things happen versus watch things happen. Having two out of three isn’t bad, but it probably won’t help you make the all-star team.
Being in touch with their markets is not only knowing their customers, but knowing the trends and competitive forces that they are experiencing. Where are they going, how are they doing as compared to their competitors, and what keeps the boss up at night? Effective client reviews and planning sessions and going where they go – events and conferences, can also provide a sense for what’s really going on in their world. Many would say that this is too hard to do because of the shear number of customers they have. Maybe. The ones that don’t think it’s too hard, focus on the most important segments or vertical markets that their business serves.
Knowing your business inside and out should be table stakes for anyone sitting in the corner office. Realistically though, it’s hard as this business is fickle and continues to go through much change. Technology and new applications make it easier and faster to get the work out. That same technology though, creates a need for changes in the workforce. The skills that got us here, may not be suitable to take us there. Everyone I talk to struggles with recruiting the staff they need. I don’t see that changing anytime soon so stop complaining about it. You’ll have to do things that you haven’t done before to find the talent you need to continue driving your business. On the business metric side, opportunities to expand the range of critical KPI’s throughout the business are present, though not always utilized in a helpful way. Not having clear metrics on the performance of the business (beyond a P&L and Balance Sheet), is like driving a car in a rain storm without a dashboard, and a pitted windshield, and bad wipers. If you aren’t where you think you should be, fix it now before you crash.
Know where you are going, and have a plan. Make sure everyone knows where they sit and the role they need to play to win. The strategic planning process in this business is not practiced as much as it should, or could be. The ones that have taken advantage of this have a clear sense of direction and are doing things on purpose. Yes, they react to and take advantage of new opportunities all the time, but only to those that will take them to where they want to go. They minimize the “there’s a shiny object, or flavor of the month” syndrome. They spend time thinking about and asking their customers “what if?” They initiate the conversations to create new opportunities.
Many companies undervalue and underperform to their true potential. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t profitable and growing – just means that they aren’t reaching their potential. Focusing on these three areas can give you the clarity you need to reach that potential. The good news is that you can start working on this today. The better news is that your competitors probably won’t do this work. It’s too hard and they are too busy working IN their business to make the time to work ON their business. Your success with this will increase the performance gap between you and them – start today. Good luck and have fun.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.