Agility over Assets

By Seshadri Guha

Given 10 Dollars, Management should invest at least 1 Dollar in building Agility over acquiring Assets within their business.

Agility is the ability of the business to respond to unanticipated change in business conditions. Agility is a measure of flexibility and business speed. It is a true measure of the business capability to sense and respond to external change. It is a sustainable source of competitive advantage that delivers value today and tomorrow.

Management would be wise to invest marginal dollars in agility over fixed Assets. While assets are an essential part of investment in any business, they depreciate every-day, and create ongoing costs in our books. An agile and adaptive process can add value every day, allow the organization to be more be more innovative and competitive, and more flexible and responsive to our markets. Agility has to be consciously incorporated within business at every level. Agile thinking creates better leaders, better entrepreneurs, and more robust businesses in the long term.

Agility is not to be confused with archaic models of planning, procedure, and organizational structure where the management priority is to establish metrics, standardization, and repeat-ability. While this can help the organization in the perceived quality, consistency and stability; overdone it takes away the organizations ability to recognize new opportunities and threats and organically develop a response. If dinosaurs and the theory of evolution are used as a reference, it was neither the size nor structure of the organization, but it ability to adapt that dictates its competitiveness and survival. Agile organizations sense change, test new ideas, and reinvent themselves at every level. In order to do that they need to be lean and nimble.

Business practice models:

  • Agility in Process: If you are implementing a new process, test the process with extraneous exceptions and see if the process and people will be able sense the deviations and respond to unexpected events. Otherwise the process is guaranteed to be an artifact of the past — not an advantage of the future.
  • Agility in Technology: If you are investing in technology, test the framework with potential changes. What if the technology or the standards change? Will the current technology have the modularity to adapt, sustain competitive advantage? What if the business process shifts or investment conditions?
  • Agility in Markets: Question the market assumptions. Is the business plan robust to changes in delivery models, new competitors, and substitutes — or even unexpected positive demand. Test if the business model is can withstand shocks.

No solution can be infinity agile and flexible, but management needs to guard against rigid solutions built on yesterday’s reality. These tend to trap business in the past. Place a hefty price on Agility, the payoff will be enormous. Agility has three basic advantages. First and foremost, it reduces business risk. Secondly it drives more elegant and robust solutions. Finally, it focuses the team on the core minimum while providing the maximum flexibility. Agility over assets is an important management practice, but becomes the very source of sustainable competitiveness for a business.es into sustainable businesses.

Seshadri Guha is a business professional with over 20 years of experience in managing complex business challenges, defining unique approaches for business strategy, and collaborating with other Senior Executives to drive Strategic Transformational Change within global firms. His experience has had a particular emphasis on identifying trends and potential solutions for industry issues. Guha’s expertise spans from competitive strategy of business processes and organizational alignment to technology architecture strategy and business modeling strategies for exclusive solutions.