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Change is just about the only thing we can count on in digital transformation. Disruption is coming at businesses from every direction in today’s ecosystem, and those companies who aren’t prepared to duck and weave to survive it won’t survive. Studies show that more than 40 percent of S&P 500 companies have gone by the wayside since 2000; another 50 percent are expected to die within the next 10 years. Yes: digital transformation has actually given us a new term: corporate death rate. And today, only companies with an agile business model will avoid that fate.
Still, buzz words like digital transformation, business ecosystem, disruption, death rate, and agility aren’t enough to keep your company motoring through today’s ever-changing marketplace. You need something solid. Your agile business model needs four legs and firm ground to stand on. If you’re still struggling with how to create the right culture to suit today’s business world, I encourage you to consider the following.
Developing an Agile Business Model
I’ve talked a lot about the type of culture needed to survive in digital transformation, and I’d be willing to bet the most important aspect of a winning culture today is agility. Agility isn’t just being able to juke an opponent. It’s the ability to move quickly—intelligently—gracefully—efficiently—anticipating the moves of the market—and the demands of your customers—before your competitors do. It’s making the most of your talent and thinking ahead of today’s technology to bring your own disruptions to the table. And there are three things every successfully agile business model has in common:
They Have an Agile Mindset
You can call this a growth mindset—a fail fast mindset—a data-driven mindset—it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that the companies that survive today are the ones that put ego on the backburner. They’re married to the concept of curiosity, not “being right.” They’re constantly seeking to imagine bigger and better, using the latest technology to improve productivity and allow for greater flexibility for their teams. They’re not afraid to wear multiple hats, upskill, or retrain when the time is right. They don’t care about job titles or the size of their office. No, companies with an agile mindset—and specifically leaders who guide them—are constantly seeking ways to use their talent in the most efficiently productive ways. That’s what an agile business model is all about.
They’re Committed to Customer—and Employee—Experience
The companies that have caused true disruption in today’s marketplace didn’t do it solely for money. They did it because they saw a hole in the system—a place where customers were being failed by major corporations. And they figured out a way to use emerging technologies to change that. Whether it’s Uber, Airbnb, Instacart, or GrubHub, these agile companies jumped in amongst the legacy lions and offered a new solution they were lean and creative enough to deliver. And customers responded.
The same is true when it comes to employee experience. For any company to be truly agile today, its employees need to be more committed to the company’s vision than they are to any single job function or product launch. They need to feel like they’re part of a culture that cares, both about them and the customers they serve. They don’t just want an agile business model; they want leaders who model agility—who aren’t afraid to move a new direction, or to shepherd their employees on that journey. Culture is hugely important in creating an agile business model. No matter how fast you are, your employees will never hurry behind you without the right culture.
They Harness the Entire Digital Ecosystem
Forget being the be-all, end-all to digital transformation. Even Amazon—which seems to be taking over the world—recognizes its weaknesses and partners with other members of its ecosystem to ensure the most agile and efficient result. Point being: you don’t have to be good at everything or have employees who are. You just need to be agile enough to plug and play your infrastructure into your next big idea. That goes for your employees, as well. Agile companies don’t hire “one of everything.” They hire the brightest mix of soft and hard skills and plug them into the parts of the company that need the most. Being agile isn’t about doing it all. It’s about doing the right things most efficiently.
Indeed, despite the disruptive technologies being developed behind closed doors, one of the most important parts of an agile business model is being a collaborative and cooperative part of your digital ecosystem. It’s being willing to learn, share, and grow for the betterment of humanity, not just your bottom line. After all—isn’t that what digital transformation is here for?