The secret to leadership success: fostering business agility

CEOs driven by speed more likely to create great experiences and drive productivity

A CEO’s secret to success is fostering business agility by developing a scalable agile framework

What if I told you there was one trait that top-performing companies share, a trait that allows them to react with lightning speed to what can seem like insurmountable challenges?

In my experience, companies with CEOs that are driven by agility and speed are better positioned to create great customer and employee experiences, drive productivity, and attract and retain the best talent.

However, while 90% of CEOs recently surveyed by IDC consider agility critical to their company’s success, few companies are successful in fostering agility at scale. One-third of companies surveyed by IDC were ranked as “static” or “disconnected.” This group is unlikely to survive 2021. Part of the problem is that business leaders often consider agility a mindset, rather than a business process that can be foundational to how work gets done.

Here are three ways CEOs can foster organizational agility:

1. Protecting and growing a company

In the IDC survey, more than half of the businesses ranked as the most agile performed admirably in customer experience, compared with fewer than a fifth of organizations overall. That success is driven by flexible operating models that can quickly pivot to customer preferences and continuously integrate their feedback, which increases overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The IDC data shows that agile companies perform 20% better than market average when it comes to customer loyalty.

2. Driving efficiency and productivity

By consolidating digital platforms and standardizing processes, organizations can take out costs and increase productivity by automating manual, repetitive tasks. Employees are more free to focus on more complex work. In fact, time to market for agile companies is 16% better than the market average, according to IDC.

One pharmaceutical company recently told me that it saves $1 million for each day it reduces a medicine’s time to market.

3. Prioritizing risk

Risk used to be about operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has expanded the risk portfolio to include the health and safety of people. Agility is crucial to weathering these ups and downs.

For example, business agility and the right technology partnerships enabled Coca-Cola’s European partners to launch and begin operating a COVID-19 portal for employees in just three days. This year has seen companies worldwide grapple with additional political, environmental, climate, and reputational risks simultaneously. Business leaders must understand that the risk environment is expanding, and have the right toolkit to address each threat.

The current environment presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do things differently and to drive change across the enterprise. By overcoming corporate barriers and introducing end-to-end customer journeys—supported by digital workflows—CEOs can protect and grow organizations, take out cost, and manage risk.