Future-Proof Your Business to Stay Agile

Laura Goodrich Posted by Laura Goodrich.

Laura is cofounder of On Impact, an integrated content company that specializes in creating and producing videos, television, and multimedia content delivered over time to create sustained change and adoption of important leadership concepts.

Future-Proof Your Business to Stay Agile

The future is unknown. You can’t be sure of what’s going to happen in the years to come. But you know that change will occur. It’s the only precise prediction that you can make for your business.

Just because there are uncertainties doesn’t mean that you can’t be future-ready. You can be pro-active – analyze current trends, derive approximations, adjust your business model and prepare your workforce, in order to prosper in the times to come.

Future-proofing your business is an appealing concept. But more often, it takes a back seat unless there is a strong sense of urgency and passion to achieve innovation and drive change. You don’t need to rope in agility experts immediately. You can begin with decoding the most apparent facets, learning from the past and applying those learnings to new situations, to perform well in ambiguous and ever-changing business world.

The idea is to look at the most obvious yet most potent dimensions of the business world. Let’s take a look at some of the simplest and most common approaches to future-proofing your organization and becoming agile:

Analyze the World

a. Analyze the Trends

Future-proofing your organization requires a careful consideration of the past and current trends and their compatibility or incompatibility with near future. Excluding major catastrophes, you will find that most trends interact with the preceding and succeeding trends in some or other way. It’s astonishing to see how you overlooked even the apparent trends and how much information you could draw just by connecting the dots.

In addition, there are some trends that sustain for long and have significant impact on business environment. These include:

  • Technology
  • Urbanization
  • Increasing generational diversity
  • Demographic transition

It makes sense to analyze the profound implications of these factors on your business.

b. Consider Possibilities in Future

As being agile also means being future-ready, it’s important to think about uncertainties. The best way to prepare for uncertainty is to recognize a range of scenarios that you think may rule the future. Each of the scenarios will have some assumptions, possibilities and blind-spots, and elements that most likely will be carried forward.

Based on your predictions of your trusted agile business advisors, you can figure out what you need to do in present to efficiently deal with the future.

c. Think about Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on Consumer Behavior

“Future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”, said William Ford Gibson, an American Canadian speculative fiction novelist and essayist. This means that what’s going to happen in near future at one place is already happening at some other place.

This also means that an innovation that’s responsible for evoking a certain kind of consumer behavior in a specific region is going to induce similar results at another location few months or years down the line. You can make assumptions for future on the basis of what’s happening in other parts of the world right now. This will help you recognize what type of change is coming and be ready to adapt to it.

Analyze Who You Are

Being future-ready and agile is more of a mental state than anything else. Agility is not only limited to the ability to change but extends to the willingness to change. The organizations that focus on more on human talent and instinct than lifeless processes and procedures are learning to be agile. Willingness to learn and change is a critical contributor to business success.

In addition, gain insights into the nature of your organization and mindset of your employees. Here is what you might consider:

  • Intellectual capacity of your organization
  • History of risk taking
  • Challenges faced
  • Values and interests
  • Inclinations, attitudes, aptitudes and tendencies of your workforce
  • Willingness of employees to adapt to change
  • Skills and behaviors required for success
  • Organizational culture
  • Motivation among employees

Also ask yourself these questions?

  • How have you managed changes previously?
  • How has your decision quality been?
  • How have you managed to fix unforeseen situations?
  • Was change brought forcefully?

A thorough diagnosis and analysis of your organizational culture and workforce will help you understand where exactly you stand. You will know what changes you need to bring within your organization to prepare for future and react effectively to change.

Create Future

The best way to become future-proof is to create future yourself. You can drive change and shape what happens after a few years. Business agility is not only limited to the ability to reacting to change whenever it occurs. It is also about establishing trends, setting benchmarks and introducing change before anyone else does it.

Wondering how can you drive change? Consider:

  • Hiring innovators
  • Motivating your workforce to submit new ideas
  • Acquiring small companies that are working on innovative concepts or building out-of-box products
  • Developing an innovation lab within your company
  • Sourcing ideas from top performing college graduates

You may choose any of the above ways that you think will work for you. Creating future is easier said than done. But once you have thoroughly analyzed past and present trends, considered uncertainties, understand changing consumer behavior and figured out ways to make change a part of business routine, driving change will be possible.

Just because your business has been around for decades doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. Of course, the glorious past of your company matters but that can’t form the basis of your bright future. You’ll have to keep adjusting to the changing marketplace and innovate fast to protect your brand image from being tarnished.

Look outside, look within and identify the opportunities to improve, excel and drive change. No worries, if you fail. You will know what doesn’t work for you. Learn from failure and get going. Experiment, fail, review and restart. You will succeed eventually.

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