There’s a new way of work shaping the landscape, and it’s called business agility.
Of course, the roots of business agile aren’t new, and its roots run deep in the IT, development and engineering worlds. However, the bold new expression we’re talking about here is a cultural shift that places the concept in a much broader context: one that uses core agile principles to drive flexibility and responsiveness, instead of using standard processes to enforce command-and-control.
Yet even more interesting than the emergence of business agile as an enterprise mindset vs. a project management methodology, is the fact that while technology obviously plays a critical part in the story, what ultimately determines success or failure is not advanced tools, big data analytics or streamlined automation. It’s good old fashioned employee engagement.
Indeed, just as customer experience is fast becoming (and in some marketplaces has already become) the most valuable enterprise brand differentiator—surpassing traditional heavyweights like pricing and products—employee engagement is an important part of business agility.
Here are the 5 reasons why:
- Employee Engagement increases visibility. With business agility, the most insidious threat that enterprises face isn’t necessarily aggressive competitive or sluggish customer demand; it’s when silos erupt in the workplace and turn information flows into bureaucratic bottlenecks. Employee engagement prevents this nightmare by making visibility a pragmatic necessity instead of an optional gesture. That is, instead of coercing, compelling or convincing employees to share knowledge, they are self-motivated to do so because it’s the only way that success happens; not just for others, but for themselves.
- Employee engagement drives customer experience. With business agility, investment success is not just about satisfying sponsors anymore; it’s primarily about impressing and inspiring customers. Employee engagement ensures that enterprises focus clearly and continuously on who their customers are, what they want today, and what they’ll expect in the future.
- Employee engagement supports rapid change. With business agility, waiting for all of the facts and figures to come in before making decisions isn’t an option. Employee engagement helps enterprises turn uncertainty from a weakness into a strength by making iterating, anticipating and adapting core competencies and competitive advantages.
- Employee engagement unleashes innovation. With business agility, innovation is everyone’s role because constant improvement isn’t an add-on: it’s the framework through which work happens. Employee engagement shifts innovation from an activity that happens from time-to-time and under certain conditions, to an approach that organically flows out of the activity and performance of work itself.
- Employee engagement boosts efficiency. With business agility, performance (or lack thereof) isn’t a function of speed: it’s a matter of results. Employee engagement connects velocity with output by increasing efficiency. Individuals and teams are empowered and positioned to make better decisions and get more done in less time; not because they’re racing against the clock, but because they’re working smarter. Speed becomes a beneficial by-product, not a frenetic and chaotic end unto itself.
Agility for the Long Haul
Employee engagement isn’t new, and with varying degrees of success, enterprises have been trying to generate and cultivate it for decades; especially in fields and markets where the demand for talented people outstrips supply. But with business agility now setting the tone and tempo, employee engagement is even more vital. Supporting rapid change, driving customer experience, unleashing innovation, increasing visibility, and boosting efficiency: these are not passing fads. Fostering business agility and engagement are likely going to be an important part of savvy organizations key strategies for a long time to come.