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The Strategy You Need to Make Sure Your Company Can Keep Up in Today's Business World Discover a superior alternative to a traditional business strategy that prioritizes adaptability, innovation and speed in execution, explores its benefits for entrepreneurs, see real-world scenarios and learn core principles and rules to propel organizations forward with clarity, simplicity and action.

By Marc Sniukas Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The modern business world has become increasingly dynamic, facilitating a remote-first environment that calls for adaptation.

Therefore, to stay ahead of the competition, business owners need a new approach to their operations that can drive consistent, reliable success.

Enter agile strategizing — an action-oriented method that exceeds the limitations of traditional business strategy. Here's how it works and why it's better than the "old way" of doing things.

Related: The Key to Every Successful Business is Agility

The pitfalls of traditional strategy

Traditional strategy is no longer effective in addressing the complexities of modern business. It relies on best practices and fails to keep pace with disruptive forces.

One such example of a disruptive force was the Covid-19 outbreak. The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges and changes to businesses worldwide. Traditional strategies that heavily relied on long-term planning and stability were ill-equipped to handle the rapidly evolving circumstances caused by the pandemic.

Businesses found themselves struggling to adapt to the sudden shift in consumer behavior, supply chain disruptions and the need for remote work. Companies that had rigid plans and processes in place often faced difficulties in quickly adjusting their operations to meet new demands and overcome unforeseen obstacles.

Challenging the assumptions of traditional strategy

Traditional planning assumes complete control over the environment and accurate future forecasts. In reality, the environment is elusive and the future is unpredictable.

Consider a technology startup that solely relies on long-term projections and assumptions about customer preferences. They might invest heavily in a product based on those assumptions, only to find that the market has shifted or a disruptive technology has emerged, rendering their strategy ineffective.

Introducing agile strategizing

Agile strategizing offers a refreshing departure from the limitations of traditional strategy. It prioritizes action, progress and quick thinking over excessive analysis. In other words, agile strategizing is always on, always firing on all cylinders.

Rather than getting lost in detailed planning, agile strategizing advocates for iterative implementation. Its core consists of three principles: understanding the context, developing a strategy and implementing actions.

This approach eliminates the need for extensive plans, allowing strategists to actively think while doing.

Related: 6 Ways Leaders Can Make Their Businesses More Agile

The value and relevance of agile strategizing for entrepreneurs

Agile strategizing holds immense value for owners of small- to medium-sized businesses. Here's why.

  • Adaptability in a rapidly changing environment. Entrepreneurs and small business owners often operate in dynamic environments. With limited resources, they need a strategy that can evolve alongside their business. Agile strategizing enables flexibility. It allows entrepreneurs to adjust their plans and actions in real time, based on market feedback.
  • Innovation and competitive advantage. Innovation is a driving force for entrepreneurial success. Agile Strategizing encourages creative thinking, challenging the status quo, and exploring new opportunities. By infusing innovation into their strategy, entrepreneurs can create a competitive advantage and stay ahead.
  • Focus on high-value opportunities. Agile strategizing helps entrepreneurs focus on the most critical challenges and high-value opportunities. With limited resources and time, it's crucial to invest energy into areas that will yield the greatest return. By identifying these key opportunities, entrepreneurs can maximize their chances of success.
  • Agility and speed in execution. Small- to medium-sized businesses often have the advantage of being nimble and agile. Agile Strategizing aligns with their inherent ability to make quick decisions. It eliminates the need for lengthy planning processes and empowers entrepreneurs to adapt. They'll respond swiftly to market changes, emerging trends and customer demands.

Putting agile strategizing into action

Agile strategizing thrives on ongoing, action-oriented strategy. It's supported by continuous conversation, reflection and "thinking while doing."

Let's explore two inspiring scenarios that show the power of this approach:

Scenario 1: Urgency for change

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, circumstances force us to break the status quo and make quick improvements. Agile strategizing provides a proven solution for implementing change swiftly and effectively.

To come back to that retail company, imagine they're facing declining sales and increased competition due to the rise of ecommerce. Agile strategizing allows them to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances and make the necessary improvements to drive growth and regain their competitive edge.

Scenario 2: Always-on strategy

For organizations seeking continuous improvement, agile strategizing offers an alternative to long-term planning.

Businesses should focus on their core challenges and opportunities for the next 12 to 18 months. They should conduct weekly strategy reviews, interventions and adjustments. This will foster a team dynamic based on agility and adaptability.

Imagine a software development company that understands the importance of continuous improvement. By adjusting their actions, and fostering an environment of constant learning, they are able to maintain a competitive advantage and drive sustainable growth in the ever-evolving tech industry.

The new rules of better strategy

After looking at ways agile strategy can be put into action, let's formulate its rules and core principles.

  • Focus on the most critical challenges and highest-value opportunities, rather than lofty goals.
  • Address challenges in the next 12 to 18 months, instead of creating rigid three- to five-year plans.
  • Put innovation back into strategy. Avoid benchmarking best practices and instead, encourage creative thinking.
  • Embrace an always-on approach to strategy, rather than treating it as an annual event.
  • Think while doing, rather than working behind closed boardroom doors.
  • Engage people in conversations, rather than relying solely on analytics and PowerPoint.
  • Take ownership and responsibility for your strategy, instead of outsourcing it to consultants.

Related: Go Agile or Go Home: Why Agile Workflow Should Kill the Waterfall Process for Good

Embrace the journey of better strategy

Now is the time to challenge the outdated norms of traditional strategy and embrace the power of agile strategizing.

Adopt an always-on mindset, continuously reflect and think while doing. Navigate disruptive times with confidence and resilience. Forge a strategy that focuses on the most critical challenges and high-value opportunities.

Engage stakeholders, foster innovation and take ownership of your strategic direction. Step into the realm of better strategy — agile strategy. Here, clarity, simplicity, coherence, focus, adaptability, innovation and action are the guiding principles. Let your agile strategy become a dynamic force that propels your organization forward.

Marc Sniukas

Strategy Advisor at the Sniukas Company

Marc Sniukas helps ambitious CEOs of SMEs design and execute winning strategies to accelerate growth and boost performance with his simple yet effective signature solutions, helping them to lead with unparalleled clarity and confidence — even in times of uncertainty.

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