Successful businesses certainly offer a product or service that their customers need, but they also have one other feature: the ability to adapt to an ever-changing business market and customer demands. Being able to quickly adapt operations to these changes is an important part of any highly successful business strategy.
Having an idea or two on how to react to change isn’t enough; to guide the direction and support the success of their business, leaders must put forth a solid, flexible strategic plan.
A Common Misconception
A lot of people who are responsible for strategic planning at the enterprise level seem to think that once a strategy is in place, that’s it—everything is set in stone, and nothing can be tweaked or changed. This line of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth and actually has the potential to hurt the business.
Strategic plans need to be flexible, agile, dynamic, and built on processes that can change with the evolving needs of your business and its customers. Strategic flexibility can be and often is a great competitive advantage for companies. As the business climate changes, organisations with flexible strategies can adapt easily, keeping in step with or ahead of their competitors.
Changes in the Business Environment
There are numerous factors associated with changes in the business environment:
- Changes in tastes and preferences
- Politics (changes in policy direction, political unrest, coups)
- Social demographics (age distribution, population growth, health awareness)
- Economics (growth, interest rates, inflation, exchange rates)
- Environmental (natural disasters, climate change)
- Technology (the Internet, AR/VR, remote work)
- Legal changes (trade restrictions, tax regulations, capital controls)
- The competitive environment (rivalries between existing companies, the threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, substitution risk)
Changes in the external environment are beyond your business’ control, so you must adapt your business to these changes.
How to Create a Flexible Business Strategy
If businesses need their strategies to be flexible to help them adapt to changing needs, then what are some ways to create and develop a flexible strategy? Here are some ideas:
1. Learning continuously
If an organisation wants to stay current and adapt to a new climate, then learning the most current set of skills is an essential part of facilitating an agile company strategy. Although an organisation’s learning capacity largely depends on that company’s human-resources team, the company needs to have an enthusiastic, supportive, and competent management team as well. Without this type of buy-in to the necessity of learning and development, it becomes next to impossible to identify changes and/or assign the appropriate people to handle those changes, limiting the firm’s adaptability.
2. Getting the right people involved
Your strategic plan will be anything but flexible if only a small number of people are involved. Your planning needs to involve all the necessary people from across your organisation who have the relevant skills and knowledge to make the changes required to move the strategy forward.
3. Having contingency plans
“Expecting the unexpected” applies in a business as well as in everyday life. Organisations are rarely able to control every internal process, let alone any external factors which may have an impact on your business. Even the most flexible strategic plans need backup plans in case there is a sudden change. In fact, it may be better to have a few.
4. Closely monitoring internal and external factors
You created a plan and implemented it; now you need to track it to make sure it’s working. Be sure to monitor both internal processes and the external market and industry using whatever methods work best for you.
A flexible business strategy is necessary in order to keep up with today’s constantly changing business climate. Use the tips provided above to create a strategy that will work well for your business and flex over time.
About the Author
Shanon Donnelly is a business strategist at Speech writing service and has considerable experience in the IT industry. She helps her clients build brands through developing detailed strategies for their companies, as well as varying her approach while working with each new client.