Agile organizations already outperform their competitors in the modern economy, yet that gap will widen after COVID-19 ends.
In that era, the next normal, change will become a constant feature of the business landscape – and only the most adaptable organizations will flourish.
What Will the Next Normal Look Like?
Though the future is unwritten, most experts predict that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave a lasting mark on the economy, the business landscape, and our daily lives.
According to research firms such as McKinsey and Accenture, we can expect to see permanent changes in many areas, including:
- The workplace
- The workforce
- Customer behavior
- The economy
- Public health
Like most crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged preconceptions, revealed vulnerabilities, upended industries, and more.
Change and volatility, however, will not end when the pandemic ends.
The economy that emerges in the coming years will instead be defined by change, which is why adaptability and agility will be so important.
5 Reasons Why Agile Organizations Will Lead After COVID-19
Here are just a few of the many reasons why tomorrow’s leaders will be agile:
1. The competitive landscape will continue to evolve
Arguably, the economy changed more in 2020 alone than it had in the decade prior – if not longer.
Yet volatility and turbulence will continue to reverberate for some time to come, as mentioned above.
Among other trends, business leaders should prepare for…
- An economic landscape that looks significantly different
- Technology trends that continue to drive disruption and change
- Behavior changes that affect both the B2B and B2C marketplace
- An economy that is more dynamic, volatile, and fast-paced
These reasons should be enough to convince any business leader of the need for agility, but there are still more.
2. The technological revolution is far from over
The fourth industrial revolution, according to Klaus Schwab, represents the convergence of multiple technological advancements: physical, biological, and digital.
These trends will, Schwab suggests, fundamentally change the way that we live and work – a sentiment that echoes McKinsey’s suggestions about the post-COVID “next normal.”
When we consider the number of technologies that have yet to fully emerge, it should become clear that technology-driven innovation will continue to reshape the world for the foreseeable future.
Here are just a few examples of emerging technologies that will influence tomorrow’s economy:
- Artificial intelligence
- Genetic engineering
- Green energy
When considering the scope and depth of these types of trends, it should be easy to see that technology-driven disruption is inevitable and virtually every business will be impacted in some way.
3. Agile organizations are more resilient
For many business professionals, agility is defined by characteristics such as:
Though “resilience” is less commonly associated with agility, that trait should be added to the list as well.
After all, among many other things, the current pandemic has revealed that during times of crisis, responsiveness and adaptability are not just luxuries – they are survival mechanisms.
During the first few months of 2020, for example, the most agile organizations were able to respond effectively to disruptive changes caused by the pandemic. Responses varied depending on the circumstances, but commonly included remote working, new workplace safety precautions, and adjustments to business strategies.
In the volatile and turbulent post-COVID era, agility may very well become a prerequisite for success.
4. Innovation and speed are built upon agility
Speed, innovation, and agility all go hand-in-hand.
Agile thinking, after all, is built upon:
- Customer-centered design
- Responsiveness and adaptability
- Collaboration and communication
- Solutions that work
Some have argued that agile and innovation are distinct, while others argue that agile is primarily for innovation.
Though the subject is certainly open to debate, it can definitely be argued that some of the world’s most innovative companies are also the most agile. For instance, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, and many others have built massive fortunes upon their ability to innovate and respond to customers’ ever-changing demands.
While the argument can be made that innovation is pro-active and agile is reactive, it is also true that in a disruptive economy, innovation will not be possible without agility.
After all, as we covered above, agility will almost certainly become a prerequisite for survival in the next normal.
5. Agility is needed to keep up with people’s changing expectations
Customer behavior is fickle during ordinary times, but doubly so during crises. During the pandemic, for instance, demand for some products skyrocketed and for others it plummeted.
In the coming years, customer demand will evolve rapidly, according to a number of research firms.
Accenture, for instance, suggests that:
- Many people will spend more time at home due to health concerns, which will drive up demand for home-related products and services
- A “health economy” will emerge, and customers will demand more health-related products and features
- The demand for virtual experiences will fuel growth in areas such as virtual reality and augmented reality
To keep up with these changes in customer demand and behavior, of course, organizations must remain customer-centered and agile.
It is also important to note that these shifts will extend beyond consumers to people of other categories – the same trends, for instance, will apply to employees and business partners, for instance.
This means that business leaders must apply agile methodology to every area of the business, not only to customer-facing functions.