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With rapid developments in technology over the last few decades, businesses have learned that flexibility and adaptability are essential. Failure to have agility in business often means newcomers or existing competitors will gain an advantage. But in a post-pandemic world, pressures to survive are highlighting the need for dynamic resilience even more than the competition. For companies that are unable to rapidly adapt and roll with the changes, the existence is likely to be threatened.

Between February and April of 2020, roughly 22 percent of small businesses closed their doors. This amounts to 3.3 million companies and startups overall. But just as many embraced a dynamic resilience required for survival in many cases and even growth in others. While this mentality is common among startups as they attempt to make their mark, tenured businesses often lack it. This has rapidly changed in light of the pandemic as companies are appreciating just how important agility in business is.

“Companies creating new websites on our platform, and email marketing campaigns, are at an all-time high. And e-commerce sales on our platform have doubled.” Anthony Casalena, Founder and CEO, Squarespace, a Website Building and Hosting Company

Defining Agility in Business

A number of terms are often used to describe agility in business. A formal account describes it as the ability to respond quickly and effectively to opportunities and threats in the market. In essence, this represents a dynamic resilience to bounce back no matter what environmental changes occur. At the same time, the term “fail-fast” is often linked to agile businesses, especially start-ups. This refers to companies that are constantly learning and adapting on the fly as they try new solutions. Understandably, those that exhibit these qualities have been the ones more likely survive as of late.

In any regard, agile businesses engage in a constant iterative process of trial and error. In education and research, such a process is often referred to as active research. Rather than conducting a study under controlled conditions, these experiments occur in real-time. An intervention is introduced, and then its effects are monitored. If the evidence suggests success, then the intervention is further developed. If not, a different approach is then considered. In essence, this is the same process that supports dynamic resilience in businesses currently.

“We are so much more efficient now, and because we have consumers buying directly from us, it’s much lower cost to launch a new product.” –  Michelle Carfagno, Owner, Greater Knead Bagels, Pennsylvania

Dynamic Resilience and Marketing

For some businesses, the pandemic has forced them to consider new strategies in marketing. For example, the Greater Knead bagel company relied nearly entirely on word-of-mouth advertising and in-store sales before COVID. But in its aftermath, stores reduced their orders, and the company had no way to reach customers. However, they embraced dynamic resilience and invested heavily in web and social media marketing. They also began shipping directly to customers. Both strategies have paid off well as a result.

A dart traveling a circuitous route to a bullseye
Finding the bullseye of success requires agility in business and dynamic resilience.

The agility in business the company showed certainly allowed it to survive. But more importantly, they also began using automation to package and seal their bagels. They also partnered with a larger fulfillment center in order to gain greater access to consumers. The new strategy allowed Greater Knead to bypass stores, which in turn gave them greater control over the customer experience. In essence, their willingness to embrace dynamic resilience allowed them to seize the opportunity to mature as a business.

“My brother and I really struggled with this big question. After eight years of working so hard, is it better for us to put all of our savings on the line again? Or do we cut our losses and let the team go?” – Sam Eitzen, Cofounder, Snapbar

Agility in Business Offerings

The pandemic has affected some businesses differently than others. Some have to consider agility in business marketing and operations. Others, however, have had to consider more radical changes. One such company is Snapbar, a company that provides event automated selfie stations and photo booths. Without events, the company found itself in a huge dilemma. One option was simply to call it quits and pursue new entrepreneurial approaches. But the owners chose to similarly embrace dynamic resilience and essentially reinvented themselves from within.

Understanding that events weren’t coming back anytime soon, Snapbar initially began selling gift boxes instead. Customers or businesses could fill gift boxes from local companies, who shared in the proceeds. Notably, this was a dramatic shift for the company away from selfie booths. For a while it helped, but eventually profits once again tanked. Not to be discouraged, Snapbar then reinvented itself as a tech company and began providing virtual photo booths instead. Today, their products provide attendees at virtual events and conferences to take event selfies and display them on Instagram. The company’s virtual photo booth is now its fastest growing product available.

How to Cultivate Agility in Business

In an effort to pursue greater agility in business, several strategies can be used. One of the most important for existing companies is to learn to let go of existing models and structures. When the entire climate around you changes, radical disruption may be needed. A willingness to start over is often something that needs consideration. In addition, exploring new market segments, new offerings, and new operations may be valuable. Lastly, dynamic resilience uses customer feedback and an inclusive culture to fuel needed change. Each of these features tend to characterize those who’ve embraced agility in business as a philosophy.

The bottom line is that nearly all business environments have been profoundly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, good or bad. Trends that now exist include advancing automation, increased connectedness, and decentralization. Likewise, a Come-to-Me Economy is only gaining momentum. Companies with dynamic resilience will recognize that major changes will be needed and pursue them. And those who embrace agility in business will be the ones most likely to excel.

 

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