With the pace of business today, it requires organizations to be more nimble and adaptive to address the ever-changing market, competitive and consumer dynamics. What worked in the past on a large scale certainly may not apply in today’s environment.
This desire to get to market quickly and have an immediate impact on the business are critical goals for any business. However, when faced with limited budgets and resources, it necessitates a different mode of operations to drive that successful outcome whether it’s a new product launch, program development, marketing campaign, or technology implementation.
So what does business agility really look like in today’s organizations large and small? It’s already happening and you probably don’t even realize it.
I’ve interviewed experts in fields spanning from broadcast media to artificial intelligence to market research on how they’ve been able to create the necessary momentum for their own businesses or their clients. Taking an iterative approach by starting small, testing, learning and refining along the way has been in their answers every time.
The end result is business (or even personal) agility that has helped these organizations realize their ideas and goals faster, smarter and more efficiently.
Here are examples across various industries and disciplines in action to help you and your company reframe the way you can create the traction needed to breakthrough.
Media Relations & PR
Storytelling is everything when it comes to pitching the media, but how do you find the most effective way to tell your story? PR experts and brothers Keith and Chris Blackman have spent years mastering the craft of media pitching. They told me the best way to gain media attention on a mass scale is to start small and iterate: test your message with a small, local audience and see what angles and narratives stick. Then use that momentum to pitch larger outlets with your pre-crafted stories, eventually doing several rounds of monitoring, rewriting, and pitching, as you work your way up the media ladder to broader audiences. It’s the basis of their winning PR strategies that they’re known for.
Broadcast Media Program Development
Aline Cox, Executive Producer of WGN Morning News, Chicago's number one morning news station, experiments often to produce winning broadcast content. With the continual pressure to fight for viewers attention, they have to maintain this delicate balance of staying relevant while being true to their brand. Her team gets together every morning to understand what’s worked and what doesn’t in conjunction with ideating on new ideas for segments. They have this inherent mindset to always try something new while being fully anchored in what their brand stands for - being “real” with unpredictable fun. By collecting data frequently and responding quickly, the news station then is able to maintain it’s viewers’ loyalty and trust, while staying true to its brand. And failure in their case may not even be failure at all - it could end up being good television!
There is a growing interest in leveraging AI as competitive business drivers but understanding how to best implement it is where organizations can get stuck. According to Steve Brown, Director of Einstein Analytics Specialists at Salesforce, the best way to do so is by taking the iterative approach. Instead of hiring a team of data scientists and purchasing a bunch of tools to overhaul the AI strategy, Steve recommends starting with a few small uses cases and hypothesis, testing and learning against them then graduating to bigger challenges. The most important part is prioritizing communication and collaboration across teams to consistently achieve business objectives.
Former Yankees Strength and Conditioning and Performance Enhancement Coach Dana Cavalea relies on testing and learning to help professional sports players and C-Suite executives alike optimize their performance. For Dana, success comes from creating a sound personal routine and sticking to it -- and to create that perfect routine, you test and learn every single day, creating mini performance victories for yourself that you’re able to repeat and build upon in the long run. This habit will create that sustainable mindset, process and ultimately payoff that achieves his client’s desired goal.
With technology is giving consumers more options and power than ever before, – businesses need to stay on top of what they want, need and how they behave in order to create those experiences that align to their needs. And traditional research methods may hold you back from getting that constant touchpoint with the consumer.
Stephanie Balderrama, President of Consumer Insights Group, takes an iterative approach which has been based on her years of experience in the technology space. Her method is about going small and broad instead of big and deep, conducting multiple quick hit studies that marry qualitative and quantitative insights instead of one, huge study. The end result is not only efficiency from a timing and cost standpoint, but in the end, her company is able to deliver more timely and actionable data for her clients.
Similar to Aline Cox’s method of testing and learning to create content for the morning news, Mark Devito, President at Bates Creative, uses iterative development approach to produce creative content for brands. With digital media creating what he calls a “pause-free content creation schedule for many companies” contributing to this mass amount of unwanted content, he feels it’s imperative to take that pause and think about how your core audience will like that content, and to test it.
For his team, it’s about it leveraging historical data to experiment with new content in small iterations, especially useful when versioning or creating hyper-customized content for specific audiences so that they want to engage more.
Joanie Rufo, Founder of Initiate Consulting, is a Certified Leadership Coach who helps leaders be more purposeful and effective by focusing on leading themselves. To “Lead Self” effectively, Joanie develops action plans for her clients by starting small and identifying the one or two core changes that will have the most impact. Through these self-observation experiments, clients start noticing their own behaviors and triggers. Observing your actions as an outsider, getting that feedback from others, and continually testing and learning until you’ve developed the needed awareness in certain situations, you will start to notice the physiological and psychological cues in your body.
Through this leading process, it's establishing these positive habits. And like any habit, it’s a muscle that can be built up through practice – and should be.
This approach isn’t new…
But being more agile in your business (or even personally) can seem daunting. Break down your organization’s tasks and processes and ask “where can we optimize by being more experimentative, but starting small? What can we iterate instead of going for a big bang?”
When we start to address initiatives into small components while still aligning them to the broader strategic goal, they become more tangible. You’ll be able to create those small wins, pivot based on what you’ve learned, and establish that momentum you’ve been targeting in the end.