Would your business have fared better through this crisis if you had greater agility?
In Prospero’s recent post ‘The New Normal’, we identified six key themes that are vital in the new, emerging digital retail/ D2C world. 50-60% of retail sales will now be online as a result of Covid-19 and leaders and teams need to think and act, differently. Enhancing what exists will not be enough to ensure customer relevance in the future.
Build agility in retail by transforming teams and internal processes to create both resilience and produce better results when the next Black Swan event comes along, and also to increase short-term performance
Agility is the ability to think, understand, and act quickly, which sounds simple, yet embedding this type of culture can be challenging!
- Agility of decision-making
This is the ability to respond to rapidly-changing circumstances without reverting to previous behaviour. Key to this is understanding and adapting your natural thinking-style, dependent upon circumstance – we all have a natural bias (for more on this take a look at Whole Brain model).
The importance of curiosity can’t be underestimated here so ask yourself do you have the right balance of people in the group to arrive at the best decision?
As leaders are you exhibiting agile qualities every day?
- Agile Business Model
An Agile Business Model is ‘Lightweight, flexible, collegiate and open to change’.
This isn’t easily applied to traditional retailers or brands, as they have much to do – however recent Covid-19 events have proven valuable learning experiences and the best businesses have already evolved.
An agile business model is inspiring for employees, offers opportunities and creativity often lacking in traditional organisations perpetuating the past.
Does your business set clear goals whilst allowing the precise route to flex and iterate?
- Team agility
Previous ways of working have altered radically during the Covid-19 lockdown: remote working and video groups are now the norm. As a result, businesses have insight into how resilient, adaptable, and potentially agile, they are.
We believe that siloes hinder agility. In our experience teams become agile as a result of 3 key things:
- Understanding each other better
- Sharing a clear vision
- The freedom to achieve goals in their image
We strongly advise having digital skills in-house to build-in agility. This means the team understands the capabilities of the tools they use and can make changes on a Saturday, rather than ask an agency to do it the following Monday.
Make sure your teams are empowered to constantly experiment with both processes and ways of working. This is the best way to continually learn and improve performance in a changing environment. Different teams may create different solutions.
- Technology Agility
Does technology place a drag on your company’s ability to react?
If technology is holding you back (because of upgrades, complexity, resource shuffling, project planning, or setting-up change teams), then your technology footprint is not agile.
Technology must play an active part in the lives of business users – if not there are potential inefficiencies in your organisation. Operators need to become the masters of their systems, they need to understand, optimise and, ultimately, replace them when the organisation grows.
Having a clear system architecture is important for business understanding and ownership. Business users should lead cross-functional teams for procurement decisions, not leave them to technical experts. Think more about configuration set-up in weeks rather than creating bespoke behemoths. Bake-in simple, intuitive, optimisation programmes.
The use of micro-services offers agility, as does the use of API-driven common data standards.
- Agility of execution
Are you comfortable managing change, building collaborative teams who understand the business’ strategy, but who have the freedom to iterate often achieve better results?
Consider the holistic Design Thinking approach (rather than trying to write up a 50-page BRD!) – this will not only focus resources but also allow a complete 360-degree view of the challenge.
As Forrester outlines agility requires both awareness and execution and starts with people. It’s not easy.
So, how to build agility in retail? Teams won’t be agile unless leaders exhibit the right traits. So make sure you empower your people and demonstrate your own agility as a leader.
Most importantly, learn from your experience today to change things for tomorrow.