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How Business Agility clearly outperforms traditional operating models in times of a pandemic



The pandemic has truly affected the whole world and there is not a single business that have not been significantly impacted in one way or the other. Working from home have for many become the new normal and have posed great challenges for employees when it comes to collaboration, delivering stable results, reacting to uncertainties and keeping connected and engaged.

At Recoordinate we have, during the pandemic, seen a tremendous difference in how different companies and employees perform and feel. We noticed that companies that have adapted their operating models to principles and values from Business Agility clearly outperforms its’ peers in ways that we have never seen before in such a compressed period of time.

Where the traditional operating model falls short

Companies having a more traditional operating model have for the most part gone into a state of passiveness; postponing decisions and projects, focusing on only keeping the most critical parts of the business running. The management team of one large company in Sweden repeatedly communicated to the organization:

“We can’t drive change in these times with everyone working from home, we’re focusing only on the most critical parts and postpone other things” - clearly sending a message to their organization to bring the pace down and wait out the pandemic.

In these organizations we see significant drops in employee engagement and that people are really struggling with the working from home situation. Clearly, their traditional operating models and way of working have very limited routines for day-to-day cross-functional collaboration, self-organizing work and quick decision making, causing confusion and frustration. And when people in these organizations can’t naturally synchronize by the coffee machines anymore, things just stop working.

How business agility operating models achieves success


In contrast, the companies that have adopted operating models based on Business Agility values and principles, have thrived both in terms of business and people performance, even in these challenging times. Their top leaders communicated let's roll up our sleeves and figure out new ways to create value and evolve, believing that their operating models still work and trusting their employees. Don’t get us wrong, these companies also struggle in parts and of course never wished the pandemic was here – but they’ve taken on an entirely different approach and really utilized the benefits from having an operating model that made their employees adapt, act and find new ways of creating value. 

The agile teams in these organizations already have clear day-to-day routines for collaboration that have proven to be very helpful working from home. Things like morning check-ins every day, common prioritized backlogs of things to work on, team health check-ins every week, clear ways of trying new stuff and getting fast feedback from the customers and the market and methods to help them stay connected, continuously evaluate their situation and adapt and improve. This has payed off in both business performance and in people health as well as engagement.


Success stories from companies that have thrived during the pandemic


In one large Nordic insurance company we see that the part of the company that had adopted an agile operating model just before the pandemic actually increased critical KPIs like eNPS with 33% and also report they spend more time on testing and innovation, over 20% more in fact.

We have also seen positive effects from a large grocery retailer. When the pandemic hit, their sales increased by 15% over night, meanwhile everyone had to go home and manage everything from home. The CEO commented on how their agile operating model was the key success factor coping with this great challenge:

“We have had great success in our implementation of an agile methodology. It is clear that our new working methods with sprints and clear priorities help us to quickly adopt when the outside world changes demand on our business”.

Another example is coming from a SME acting in the charity sector. They had just before the pandemic hit started working based on a Business Agility approach and this is what one of their managers told us about their experiences with their operating model:

“It really is incredibly more rewarding to work based of Business Agility - in every way. We have become more efficient, more structured, reach much higher goals - AND have more fun at the same time. We are so happy with the way we work and do not know how we would have managed to transition to remote working without our new ways of working”.


In conclusion


When the world around us is changing, for better or for worse, being able to meet that change is critical. And one thing is clear: having an operating model based on business agility has yet again been a key in meeting the change!

Anders Grahn

Principal Consultant

Business Agility

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