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How to run an agile business and adapt to your customer

How to run an agile business and adapt to your customer

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Some people despise the word, ‘agile’. Most of the time this is because it’s used as a buzzword within a company that doesn’t actually live and breathe the reality of agile working.

The good news is that anyone can introduce agile ways of working into their business. Even better, you can do this incrementally, in a low risk and manageable way.

Here we’ll share a few tips that will help you run an agile business and respond to your customers’ ever-changing needs.

Be agile, don’t do agile

Many senior leaders believe that agile ways of working are nothing more than digitising a few services and using online tools like JIRA. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, becoming an agile business involves a great deal of cultural change and a mindset shift.

These don’t happen overnight and are a product (no pun intended!) of collaboration and alignment of individuals over time.

Being agile means working across functions within the business to achieve a common goal, and being prepared to pivot or re-envision that goal as your customers’ needs change. You may use digital tools to achieve this way of working, but those are merely enablers.

Be customer-centric

Part of the mindset shift required to run an agile business means putting your customers’ needs above all else. If you get it right for your customers, the profit will follow. But here’s the big challenge - what happens when your customers’ needs change? And change again…and again…and again?

You’ll need to set up your business in a way that makes it easy to identify these changes and adapt to them, without disrupting the flow of your everyday operations. It sounds impossible, but it’s not - if you’re structured in the right way.

You’ll need to revisit any existing KPIs to ensure they’re focused on customer satisfaction. Then, it’s worth setting up some milestones and processes for capturing customer insight and feedback on a regular basis. This means more than once a year!

Think more like once a month…It matters less how and where you capture this insight - it could be through regular surveys, focus groups, digital feedback forms or even guerilla testing. It’s the insight that matters most, not the channel you use to get it.

Review your existing processes and systems and identify any that make it difficult for you to respond to customers’ changing needs. This could be outdated legacy systems that need to be updated. Or it could refer to outdated processes that need to be improved or digitised for efficiency.

Review your team structures

Do your teams work in a linear way, or even worse, as silos? This is a big no-no if you want to run an agile business.

You’re looking for cross-functional collaboration. Small teams that are focused on a shared goal and all pull together to achieve it. This model works in some of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world, from Facebook to Google. So it will work for yours too, regardless of the size or type of your business.

Once again, a mindset shift is required to work in a cross-functional way. There’s no place for egos, blame cultures or the proverbial ‘I’ in a team. You’ll need to invest in training to re-frame how your employees view their role within the company, and advocate the strength of a collaborative team.

Break it down

What do small startups and large enterprise businesses that work in an agile way have in common? They all try to break everything down into its smallest parts.

From goal setting and ways of working to processes and projects, an agile business seeks to simplify and split any task into its smallest components.

There are a few reasons why this works;

  • It makes the tasks more manageable
  • You’ll get products to market quicker so they can be tested for feedback
  • Moving to smaller projects minimises risk because you only need to invest in the next small project, rather than a year-long, large scale endeavour
  • If customers’ needs change, it’s much easier to pivot so you can respond to them

About Digital Detox

We’re a sustainable, human-led digital agency and agile working is in our DNA. We don’t even think of it as ‘agile working’ anymore, it’s just how we do things.

If you’re looking for support on your next digital project, get in touch to see how we can help.