Once documented in weighty business plans, strategy is now real-time allocation of resources to immediately respond and react to change this is called: agile adaptability.
These are a few key things that can change in an organization’s business environment–from external and/or internal influences–literally from day to day. Things like:
- People skills and capability
- Financial power and cost of doing business
- Demand for products and services
- Government stability and buyer confidence
- Innovative competition
It’s impossible to carve strategy into stone at the current speed of innovation and market evolution. Instead, strategy is all about having the right resources–financial, human, technological, etc.–“set aside” so immediate response to changes in the business environment can be deployed quickly and confidently to mitigate risk and optimize opportunity.
An organization that has agile and adaptive strategies has an abundance of the following nine characteristics:
- Flexibility: can bend without breaking
- Adaptability: can implement change quickly with only positive outcomes
- Accommodation: can and will always eagerly and graciously help clients and customers
- Elasticity: can stretch toward opportunity and snap back to a core of strength when risk outweighs benefit
- Versatility: is unwaveringly multifaceted, multitalented and resourceful
- Resilience: has perfected the art and science of survivability
- Robustness: is vigorous, strong and healthy
- Customizability: can make modifications quickly and accurately to respond to influences
- Liveliness: pervasively energetic, excited, active, spirited and outgoing
These characteristics are the core values, mission and culture of highly adaptive organizations. They are woven through the mission, vision, ethics and personal behaviors of every person in the organization.
Fundamentally, being adaptive is rooted in an organization-wide, passionate “can do!” attitude. Business processes, projects and people aligned to innovate and deploy innovation, eagerly taking ownership of the projects required and the outcomes achieved.
Any organization that starts down the path to being perennially adaptive can benefit by taking a few pages out of Subaru’s playbook. It’s not enough that the company builds excellent automobiles and has a deeply rich understanding of their demographic; it’s that they are committed to greatness as evidenced by their zero-landfill policy. In less than two decades, the company has engineered a recycling program company-wide that utilizes 98% of what would otherwise become waste and be taken to landfills.
Subaru’s innovators built out an ongoing process whereby the act of investing $7.5 million a year doing the right thing for the entire planet and its people generates for them $11 million in financial benefits annually. Furthermore, the policy and its implementation has made it possible for Subaru to create a division of zero-landfill system “teachers” who train other companies–i.e. Raytheon, Whole Foods and the National Parks system–to follow the same green trail. And, they provide this service free of charge.
Subaru has all nine of the qualities above in excessive amounts, and they manage their resources so they can leap on similar–greater or smaller–opportunities at virtually a moment’s notice. Because their strategy and culture is rooted in being adaptive their opportunities for innovation are unlimited and attainable. That’s the strategy of adaptive agility.