• Chris Bevan

Four essential capabilities to achieve flexibility and agility

Uncertainty we are told, is the #1 thing that business don't like. However uncertainty is probably the only certainty into the foreseeable future, (remember that one from the 90s?).

In uncertain times companies need to be able to respond to external challenges which are caused by a number of factors that have more far reaching affect than originally thought. Take the hot topic of today, "Brexit" the impact on the stock market which impacts the value of the pound which then impacts consumer activity that then impacts consumer spending which has a knock-on effect on retail markets, supply and manufacturing and so on - Unilever & Tesco “Marmite War” for example.

Above all else, companies need to be able to respond and to do this their operating model needs to be flexible enough to make the appropriate response. Operational flexibility and agility must be part of every organisation's DNA.

There are four corporate capabilities that are critical and must be integral to the operating model if true flexibility and agility is to be achieved.


Understanding what trends are forming and the relevance of those trends is critical. Analysing what has happened, although important could be too late! We need to predict, but predict by using unstructured and structured data and then applying judgement and therefore truly being ahead of the curve. Data Science is here and is becoming mainstream. Embrace it!

Impact Assessment

Having identified the trends and determining and prioritising potential responses the organisation needs to determine the impact of those responses on their (target) operating model. What are the impacts on our business and technology landscape, our processes, people, organisation, etc.? What capabilities do we need to develop and grow or introduce to support the responses we need to make?

Decision Making

Having evaluated the impacts and prioritised the responses, decisions have to be made and quickly. Too many organisations stall at this stage, almost too scared to make the vital decision, requiring another round of analysis....just to be sure. This is where information based, collective decision making comes into play. This doesn't replace judgement, it supports it, however decisions have to be made and the changes that have been agreed developed and implemented.

Change Design and Execution

The fourth capability supports the execution of the change and must be an integral part of how the organisation functions. It must have an agreed framework for how business change is designed and executed. After all, the change is going to be implemented into a "live" operation without adverse effect on the customers. This cannot be left until the last moment but must be understood from the start.

Flexibility and agility is essential for future corporate success. These four capabilities are integral to that success. How do you compare?

Chris Bevan is a Co-founder of Outvie and an expert in leading large scale business transformation.

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