“Agility” is a much written about topic. If you do a search in Amazon in “agility” it lists 18,000+ books written on the subject. Admittedly most of the top 10 relate to “dog training” and are nothing to do with commercial agility. Interestingly, I struggled to find too many books on “commercial agility” and most books on “business agility” were focused on leadership. So what is agility in the context of commercial and contract management?
When we first think about agility we often link it to performance, however, in the business world, “commercial agility” is about more than just performance, it is about “performance in context”. Often when we talk about “commercial agility” what we mean is that we need to be agile in terms of our ability to anticipate change not just react to it. It is this that creates competitive advantage and affects survivability.
I would suggest that what we are really talking about therefore is “adaptive agility”.
If you do a quick search on the term “adaptive agility” the majority of, the few relevant, references are in the field of computing where agile software development need to have robust processes that allow rapid development.
And so, if in the context of agile software development this term has been linked to creating processes that change such that they are “barely sufficient” for each opportunity. Then in the context of commercial agility I would say that it is about being able to predict and act to accommodate change one step ahead of your nearest competitor whether they are your competitors today or someone moveing into your space.
By taking this approach organisations are able to balance the cost of progress or improvement and the need for competitive advantage. As in the Maasai Mara the corporate world is littered with those who have got the judgement call wrong and not been able to predict the impending threat and counter it with enough resources. Too little and you are devoured, and too much and you run out of energy too soon.
The signs of impending threat are always there if we look hard enough. The real question is whether we as individuals, teams, or enterprises spend the right amount of time looking for them and are we looking in the right direction.