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Building Strategic Agility Using Business Acumen

Strategic agility is the ability to adapt quickly based on what's going on in your organization - and I think we all have a newfound appreciation for adaptability after COVID.

Restaurants pivoted from majority of business dine into all dine out, grocery stores hustled to add curbside pick-up, and retail stores went from in-person to nearly all online shopping. Without the ability to adapt - who knows if these organizations would have survived.

The first step in strategic adaptability is to get a very clear idea of your business strategy by determining:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?

  • How do I get there?

Once you've got these questions answered, you should have a solid plan to move forward. The thing that really allows you to be adaptable is...you guessed it - Business acumen! Business acumen skills give you the ability to understand:

  • what's going on in your industry

  • what's going on with your customers

  • and then to use this information to be able to make that adaptation.

To succeed long term, it's essential that you understand your business well enough to say 'I gotta change' and then to have the agility, the systems, the processes to successfully make these changes. If you don't have the flexibility and capability to acknowledge when changes need to be made, and successfully implement them - you won't be able to keep up with the industry. And as history tells us with examples like Sears, JCPenny, and Blockbuster, if you're not willing to change and adapt, you won't succeed.

BUT, strategic agility isn't just about figuring out where you'd like to go and making a plan to get there, you'll also need the ability to successfully implement the plan. This means each individual within your organization will need to make a change, so it's essential that your team is on board. Business acumen allows your team to understand why a change must be made, and to be a real contributor on the road to change. It allows them to understand:

  • what the company is trying to do

  • what's going on around them

  • how to make better business decisions

A deep understanding of your business gives you the knowledge you need to determine what decisions have to be made and to change or adapt your strategic direction. The more you and your team understand about your business, the competition, and the external factors impacting the business, the more agile you can be...otherwise, you're just guessing!

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