by Taffy Williams, author of “Think Agile: How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed“
The New Year brings new events that may positively or negatively affect your business. Known events are possible to plan for in advance. Those that may potentially occur allow for strategy development prior to the event.
Then there are those totally unexpected events that “blind side” you and require a rapid and agile response to either capture the great opportunity or avert disaster.
The following agile activities may help you be more prepared in the New Year:
Identify & Plan.
Identifying and understanding the steps required to reach a goal is critical to time optimization. Each step in the path has a range of timings and hurdles to cross for successful completion. Proper identification and thought is converted to a project timeline and estimate of cost to be used for tracking progress. The steps can be assigned to a team member based on their abilities or the leader may elect to perform the entire process. The faster the identification and planning take place, the faster the translation to action. Many people do this for simple everyday tasks like taking a trip: Destination, mode of travel, where to stay, budget, what to pack, who is going, etc. Identification of the budget aids in the determination of possible destinations, mode of travel, and place to stay. What to pack and who is going may be identified based on these factors.
Look for Roadblocks.
Roadblocks can occur in many ways. You could lose a key team member thus resulting in needed extra time to fill the position. Negotiation of a supply agreement may go longer than expected. Results from a key test are confusing and may suggest the company go back to an earlier step in the development process. There are many issues that can arise. Planning for the “WHAT IFs” may cut reaction time down or provide alternatives to go around the roadblock. In the vacation planning above, what if the location is in a hurricane zone or what if travel by auto was delayed by a traffic problem. You may have a backup location to visit if weather is a problem. If your hotel allows it, you may pay for late arrival to avoid loss of a room due to travel delays.
Considering alternatives is important. If cost is not a constraint, it may be more expedient to try several paths to the goal and run them simultaneously. If the company does not have adequate resources, selection of one or two of the most attractive alternatives may help. Considering options and determining those that may provide the “biggest bang for the buck” often serves the company better. It is critical that one remain calm and proceed to resolving the issues as quickly and methodically as possible. For the trip example, you may decide the freeway is the preferred way to reach your vacation spot but switched to an alternate route due to traffic. Alternatively, after evaluating pending weather issues, alternate modes of travel like train or airplane are utilized to ensure arrival at the desired destination with the least amount of stress.
Execute & Adjust.
Many plans require adjustments to make them work. It is not possible to know each and every issue in advance. For this reason, agile entrepreneurs understand the need to make adjustments and move on. The goal is to finish the race is the quickest time with the least amount of frustration and expense. Keeping the eye on the goal and making adjustments is often helpful and ensures the best results.
Unexpected events occur all the time. Some may be true opportunities that will lead to great success while others may cause rapid decline and disaster. Remaining vigilant is essential to a more agile and rapid response to each of these events. This is especially important when no preparation has been considered in advance.
Taffy Williams is the author of “Think Agile: How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed“. He writes for the Startup Blog and Examiner Charlotte, NC- small business and is also found on LinkedIn, Twitter @twilli2861, ColonialTDC , photo website, Google+, Facebook, and Startup Group.