Business Process Consulting -
Creating Agility and Speed in Your Business
by Peter McLean
Agility in business is defined as the maneuverability, energy and flexibility that it takes to adapt to a particular environment. Speed is defined as the time that it takes to decide and to act, in relation to opportunities and/or threats that a business faces. In small business, there are seven critical factors in achieving agility and speed.
The ability to gather and disseminate relevant information is critical for effective, timely decision making. Agility and speed are two criteria that can assist the business owner and manager benchmark and measure themselves in regard to creating a high performing, successful business.
The seven factors that require close attention in achieving agility and speed in business are:
Have Clear Lines of Responsibility
In the high performance business culture, everyone knows what his or her role and function are. They are defined within the constraints of the strategic agenda and the direction of the business.
Having control mechanisms in place, such as documented position descriptions and standard operating procedures, for instance, ensures consistency in communication and feedback.
These mechanisms also provide a means of coordinating multiple initiatives and tasks, in terms of objectives and measures, consistent with resources and capabilities of the strategic agenda.
Razor Sharp Focus
Everyone knows what the goals and objectives are, in keeping with the strategic vision that must be aspired to. This is because they are clearly defined and spelled out. This can be done very simply and elegantly - in fact, the simpler the better.
Having a Small Business Plan that is aligned and cascades into the company's functional areas and into its individual work plans will ensure that the vision of the business is communicated in concrete, achievable and measurable terms.
Highly Motivated People
Successful businesses are full of committed and dedicated people. All of the people in such businesses exhibit a high drive for self-improvement and achievement, both at the personal and the corporate level.
Such business environments create a high-trust and winning culture. Activities are focused on the "cause of the business". Creating such a developmental culture is essential in the high performance business.
Decision Making Happens Where the Action Is
In highly successful businesses, everyone leaves "ego" at the door. Work is about getting the job done and getting results.
This means having a common approach to understanding what is going on. It means people are able to make decisions where they are within the business. This type of on the ground decision making occurs within the boundary conditions of the Mission, Vision and Values of the business, and within the company's Strategic Agenda.
Conversely, highly centralized decision making environments slow down the flow of information. This results in ineffective decision making and an inability to act quickly in response to opportunities or threats to the business. Information, particularly new information, is the life blood of a successful small business.
Get Rid of the Politics
Company politics slows you down. The successful, adaptive business minimizes political interference, by having undertaken business policy development. It also adopts common approaches to decision making and conflict resolution, through having clearly articulated processes, procedures and measures.
The political factor is minimized by having these elements in place and through paying careful attention to the other six factors outlined in this article.
Of course, you will never completely eliminate this element from corporate life, but you can manage it and sideline it to a large extent.
Think and Feel
Making effective decisions relies on undertaking the right amount of logical analysis, combined with an informed, intuitive response.
Agility and speed are achieved when you analyze a given business situation and use your intuitive knowledge, gained from experience and practice, to make the appropriate decision. The barrier to agility and speed in this context is "over" analysis. Over analysis can paralyze a business to the point that it is neither agile nor quick in achieving its objectives.
In business, one must develop this capability of making the best balanced choice, given the information available. One of the qualities of good leadership in business is the ability to make a judgment call with limited information at hand.
Keep Each Other Accountable
In the effective business, everyone holds themselves accountable for results, as well as holding each other to the tasks each are assigned. Measures must be clearly understood and built into the fabric of all the business planning mechanisms.
Having a performance management process in place that encourages shared responsibility and accountability engenders a culture of high performance.
By paying careful attention to these seven key factors, the behavioral and attitudinal elements that create barriers to agility and speed can be greatly reduced in your business.
Peter McLean is a highly experienced Coach, Senior Manager, Consultant, Business Owner and Company Director. He successfully coaches top Executives in some of Australia’s leading multi-national companies. One such Senior Executive recently won an International Award for Excellence within his particular field. In addition, Peter works extensively in the Public, Private, Commercial and Not-for-Profit sectors, delivering outstanding results for his clients. To learn more of how you can benefit from Peter’s experience, visit the Essential Business Coach web site!
Peter McLean may be contacted at