Agility and adaptability have never been more important to running a business than they are today. While this might sound hyperbolic, it’s absolutely the truth. Greater technology allows for massive advancements. But those advancements also mean there are going to be winners and losers when the economy and consumer preferences change.

One study by McKinsey found: “Since the early 1990s, almost half of the entire cohort of superstar companies in one business cycle has been knocked out of the top decile by the next business cycle.” This plainly shows how there’s no way to stay safely on top forever in today’s world, where disruption can come from anywhere, at any time. Here are five tips for becoming more agile as a business. 

1. Build Flexibility Into the Business Plan

It’s hard to be agile when your entire business is wrapped up in an idea that’s totally immobile. For instance, betting the farm on a business for building horse-and-buggy carriages probably wouldn’t have worked out well during the growth of automobiles.

When looking at your business as a whole, think about your goods or services. Envision what will happen if changes in technology, culture, or anything else lead to that main offering becoming out-of-favor. It’s wise to build a lineup of offerings that can withstand shifts and be scaled up and down accordingly.

Being open to ideas and embracing the idea of change is one of the most important aspects of running an agile business. No matter what you do, the world is going to change. Resisting that will only hurt you and your business in the long run.

You’re not going to see the future exactly right every time. Don’t be stubborn when the signs are pointing to something that you didn’t see previously. Be flexible and adapt.

2. Listen to Your Data

Data is more prolific today than at any other point in history. There’s more data available to us than can feasibly be analyzed by humans. Fortunately, new advances in data technologies, such as AI analytics, are making it possible to use data in totally novel ways.

ThoughtSpot is one analytics provider that’s leading the way when it comes to building AI-enabled tools. This allows for some powerful things, such as automatically pulling data insights from multiple sources, and facilitating greater levels of data democratization. Having the best data tools is one of the best ways for organizations to stay ahead of trends.  

3. Innovate Intelligently

Looking forward and innovating is one of the most crucial elements of running an effective business. But there are also limitations to this concept. Think of all the times businesses have tried to see the future, only to be outright rejected by consumers.

Yes, agility is essential. The caveat there is that your organization shouldn’t make changes just because it can. Go back to the data. Being too soon can sometimes be just as bad, or worse, than being too late.

4. Get the Right People

You’ve likely heard this a million times, but it can never be overstated: It’s important to hire the right people. Of course, this is critical when putting together a management team. Legendary investor Warren Buffett is famous for saying: “The important thing we do with managers, generally, is to find the .400 hitters and then not tell them how to swing.”

While Buffett is referring to keeping management teams in place when companies are acquired by his holding company Berkshire Hathaway, the same concept applies to internal business operations. You want to find the best people, give them the resources they need, and then get out of their way.

Building a team based on performance, results, and expertise will allow your organization to stay agile and ahead of the curve. Data can help optimize these hiring decisions at every level and reduce turnover rates to boot.

Your business needs to be agile in order to succeed in today’s economy. While navigating changes always provides challenges, keeping this at the forefront of your operations can make tough transitions much smoother.