Is Your Strategy Flexible and Agile Enough to Compete?

Photo on 5-8-13 at 1.08 PM #3Strategy and innovation are critical elements that are prerequisites for companies as they compete for market share, maintain their current markets or are seeking to expand their markets.  Strategy should be worn as a lose garment that is flexible and agile to allow companies the ability to respond quickly to changes in the business environment.

Companies need to be bold in their decisions, have a new attitude and direction to deal with the rapidly changing environment.

So how can companies develop flexible and agile business strategies?

1. Get rid of that SWOT analysis

There I said it and you read it correctly, get rid of the SWOT analysis.  While the SWOT analysis has always been the go to for business analysts, marketing gurus and business schools, it does not build in flexibility. If your company updates the SWOT during the annual business planning cycle, the SWOT assessment becomes a useless exercise not worthy of the paper it is printed on.

The SWOT analysis is an excellent tool when a company utilizes it frequently to scan their external and internal environment regularly.  The SWOT can be useful to identify where the change is occurring and what is the likely impact on the company goals.

The SWOT assessment, however, used as a stand-alone tool, is not be relied upon for its “flexibility” to counter balance disruptive technologies.  It is not that kind of tool.

2. Identify areas your company can adapt easily

Quickly assess changes specific to your wheelhouse and quantify the impact.  Consider ways to counter the strategy or jump in and cash in on the market.  At times, we find ourselves overwhelmed with change, particularly when we can visualize the high level impact on sales, profit, etc.

The old adage, what is the best way to eat an elephant, is one bite at a time.  Planning to lead, rather than follow, is a crucial step in creating agility and flexibility.

Companies need to maintain a constant state of innovation.

3. Think innovatively

The winds of change can have many companies in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode.  I liken the thought of innovative thinkers to one that is able to sense the winds of change.

Allow employees to think outside of the box.  Create an environment of experimentation.  Create a place of safety that implies no idea is foolish.  Allow employees to create with a sense of purpose.

It is likely that in this innovation stage the company will begin to see the emergence of a new business model.  Grab hold of this concept because the business planning process will never again be a static tool.

Long range strategy planning is no longer a viable alternative for most companies.  Strategy needs to be in a constant state of planning, reviewing, and scanning the environment.


Renee Sanders is a PhD candidate in business at Capella University, where her specialization is strategy and innovation. Renee holds an BBA and MBA from the University of Maryland University College. Renee currently works in for a defense contractor as the Director of Strategic Pricing and Price to Win.

2 Responses to “Is Your Strategy Flexible and Agile Enough to Compete?”

  1. Agreed! Innovative thinking and the ability to adapt and adjust is key to profitability and longevity. Your blog is timely. I am the Project Manager/Business Development for a small, family owned business in the construction industry. We market a service with the end product being a Decorative Concrete Floor Finish. Polished and stained concrete is still a relatively new type of floor finish. Therefore, currently we have very little competition but this will eventually change. We have to adapt, adjust quickly and think out of the box. Thanks!

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