You may have heard of the term “business agility” being used in a book, on a Zoom, or from a leader within your organization. 

What is Business Agility?

We asked twelve agile experts to share their definition of business agility. From strategy pivots to empowering employees, these diverse perspectives may help provide a solid definition of just what business agility really is. 

Here are twelve definitions of business agility. 

  • The unique ability to adapt to change
  • An organization’s culture of minimizing problems
  • Competitive advantage
  • Fluidity and flexibility
  • Strategy pivots
  • Attentiveness to trends and market changes
  • Removing sources of disruption and delay
  • Adapting to evolving customer demands
  • Detecting and responding to new data points
  • Everyone is involved in delivering solutions
  • Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast
  • Evolution to product-market fit

The unique ability to adapt to change

In essence, it is the emergent qualities, capacity, or unique ability of an organization to sense, respond, react, and adapt to change. This is done in such a way that they are able to do so and retain or enhance their competitive advantage without compromising quality, integrity, or losing momentum.

Tori Palmer, LurnAgile

An organization’s culture of minimizing problems

There is a myriad of definitions of what business agility is. My facile definition is: Business

agility is an organization’s culture of minimizing the impact of problems. Problems, in this case, can be internal or external and range from disruptors in the marketplace bringing in a new product, to application uptime and infrastructure. I boil it down to culture because in an agile culture the organization will make the necessary investments in tools, training, processes, hiring, etc., to ensure that the agile culture is achieved and sustained.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Competitive advantage

Business Agility means the business is set to deliver better quality products, faster than the competition. This is done by creating an agile ecosystem where people, products, and customers are aligned using techniques that drive transparency, communication, and collaboration.

Megan Hicks, MegAgility

Fluidity and flexibility

Business agility means fluidity and flexibility, with staff and teams able to move seamlessly between roles for the benefit of maximum customer satisfaction. What’s more, resources must be made available wherever they are most needed at any one time. Business agility can be a tricky proposition to get on board with. 

Mark Christensen, People & Partnerships

Strategy pivots

Business Agility represents the ability of a company to pivot its strategy. While the vision or goal needs to be static, how we get there needs to be flexible. It also represents how we as a company must be able to pivot our products to fit our customers’ needs

Michael Thompson, LurnAgile

Attentiveness to trends and market changes

Business agility is a team or organization that pays attention to trends and market changes, responds and adapts to these changes, and takes action to pursue opportunities rather than stagnate in the face of uncertainty. 

Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist and Author of “Activate Your Agile Career”

Removing sources of disruption and delay

Agility just means flexibility, so “business agility” is flexibility in service to the shifting needs of the business. This sounds great but it is so challenging! Management is keyed into all the new opportunities and the fluctuating market so they want frequent changes. Meanwhile, the downstream developers need time to finish the current work. To maximize business agility, you need to look at all parts of the process. Analyzing and profiling incoming work requests helps to organize and sequence the work. Removing sources of disruption and delay will improve the flow of work, clearing the decks to take on new work sooner.

Janice Linden-Reed, Salesforce

Adapting to evolving customer demands

Business agility is the ability of an organization to adapt to changing customer demands as well as to changes within its industry, supply chain, and core competencies. Business agility is achieved by a) streamlining information flows throughout an organization; b) encouraging leadership at all levels of an organization, and c) embracing continuous improvement across all business processes.

Orlando Ramirez, Agile Coach

Detecting and responding to new data points

Business Agility is defined by an organization’s ability to detect and respond to new data points in a timely and positive manner. An organization with a high degree of business agility can detect an event such as a pandemic and reprioritize its efforts in enough time to minimize risk as well as create a competitive advantage. For example, an agile company in the entertainment business would understand the implications of the pandemic and immediately seek to acquire a digital asset that would allow them to transfer their events into virtual space. Business agility is accomplished by instrumenting your organization with high-fidelity feedback loops at the micro and macro levels. What do your customers want? What does the market want? And then creating a culture and systems to respond to information as soon as possible.

Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug

Everyone is involved in delivering solutions

The term agility is often referred to with software teams. Business agility is not just software related, it’s the organization as a whole. What does that mean? For an organization to develop business agility that means that everyone involved in delivering solutions— and I mean everyone — including business and technology leaders, development, IT operations, marketing, finance, legal, support, compliance, security, human resources, and even customers — must all use agile practices to allow their organization to respond rapidly to changes in the internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision. Key aspects essential to long-term business agility are adaptability, flexibility, and perseverance of relentless improvement.

Adrienne Rinaldi, PinnacleTek

Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast

Adapting. Pivot. Fast. Continuous. People. All words that come to mind when thinking about Business Agility. For me, business agility is adapting to technology, listening to the customers, and empowering our employees and leaders to make the decisions to meet the demands of the market. It’s also embracing a culture of innovation to solve complex problems, fast.

Dawn Wright, John Deere

Evolution to product-market fit

Finding a product-market fit is the key to building a good business. It’s also really hard to do, which is why a term like business agility even exists. Business agility is a continuous evolution towards finding product-market fit, which is a match between your value proposition and customer segments. No business nails product-market fit on their first go, which is why the most successful startups are ones who aren’t afraid of adopting an agile approach. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

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