Resources | Transformation

5 Reasons Why Companies Are Missing the Mark with Business Agility

  • 1:30 minute video
  • 3 minute read
Pete Cripps
on May 18, 2021
Top 5 Business Agility Roadblocks

In today’s hyper-competitive, disruptive business environment, staying one step ahead of the competition can prove to be an immense challenge for organisations stuck in a rut of doing things the same way. Traditional, slow-moving organisations lack the ability to deliver on customers’ constantly changing whims. Across industries, the need to inject business agility is keenly being felt. Yet, despite best efforts, many organisations are failing in their quest to inject business agility into their operating models.

In a series of articles, coming out over the next few weeks, we explore the top 5 roadblocks to business agility. This article explores business agility roadblock #1 – Leaders Aren’t Leading The Way. We explain why and provide tips to incorporate into your business.

What is business agility and why should you care?

Business agility is more than a mindset. It’s a complete rethink of the operating model within business, encompassing everything from leadership and culture to organisational structure and technology. With innovation, adaptability and speed-to-market at its core, business agility models are embraced by organisations who want to level up their organisation and potentially re-tool themselves.

Not to be confused with the Agile methodology (although Agile does form one part of it), business agility is about much more than a way of managing projects. You can read more about the difference between business agility and Agile, in our article here.

If the goal of business agility is to re-think & re-tool your business, then the process of transformation involves examining each of the areas above and find ways to improve. Ultimately it’s about enhancing your organisation so it can more readily achieve its strategic objectives and in some cases not only survive in a fast-paced market but also create an unfair advantage.

Business agility delivers real outcomes

According to a recent McKinsey Quarterly survey, 75 percent of business leaders say that organisational agility is a top or top-three priority. These leaders are on the money – business agility is proven to deliver tangible, long-lasting value to the organisations that get it right.

In its simplest form, business agility empowers all employees within an organisation to be their best; and takes a hard look at the cultural, structural and procedural roadblocks holding them back.

By creating a culture of trust, where your people feel safe to explore new ideas and do their best work, your business reaps a range of benefits. These include:

• Customer satisfaction
• Speed to market
• Team morale and productivity
• Ability to adapt fast to changing market conditions
• In short, business agility helps you move faster and more effectively than your competitors.

Why are so many missing the mark?

There are five common roadblocks that get in the way of success when organisations decide to embark upon business agility transformation. From the way your leaders lead to the legacy silos that inhibit collaboration, these roadblocks are particularly common in larger, traditional organisations. The good news? They can be overcome.

Roadblock #1. Your leaders are not leading the way

When it comes to business agility adoption, the #1 barrier to success is leadership. If your leadership team is not on board with change, then it will be very difficult to get wider buy-in from other areas of the business.

Why are leaders so reluctant to change?

Often, leaders simply don’t understand their role in transformational business agility. Because of this lack of understanding, they do not fully participate in the transformation. While leaders might show their support by signing off on the initiative, if they then put the onus of implementing the change on middle management and effectively step away from the process, there is a disconnect that can be very damaging to its success.

Then there’s the fact that it can be hard to shake off old habits and change ways of thinking. Leaders who have risen to the top of an organisation by doing things a certain way may be reluctant to change their attitudes, values and behaviours – after all, what they’ve done in the past has worked for them up until now, right?

But leaders who stubbornly cling onto the ‘old way’ – just because that’s how things have always been done – risk holding all the people they lead back from success and growth.

Follow the leader

For any business agility transformation to be a success, it has to start at the top. Leaders need to walk the talk and own the transformation. If they don’t, then employees will turn their backs on it.

What does ‘walking the talk’ look like? Leadership teams need to demonstrate the behavioural models at the heart of transformational business agility. They need to develop trust. They need to help teams learn and exercise empowerment so that teams feel safe to try new things and to even make mistakes along their learning journey.

If leaders don’t do these things, then teams become less engaged and less willing to innovate and take risks in order to improve. They just turn up, do their jobs and go home again. People stop buying into business agility transformation if they don’t see their leaders taking it seriously themselves.


• As soon as you decide that business agility is a strategic imperative, then leaders must become stewards of the transformation – their role is to make it safe and beneficial to all.

• Leaders should communicate to teams on a monthly or quarterly basis – sharing updates about the transformation and how it is impacting on the business.

• To get leadership buy-in, clearly demonstrate the objectives and benefits of business agility and how to measure it.

Business Agility Roadblocks
Watch the rest of the series
Ironclad Silos - #2 Roadblock
Ironclad silos hold you back - Business Agility Roadblock #2
Without the right operating model in place, it’s like jumping on a bike that’s missing a wheel.
Read more
Business Agility Roadblock #3 – Lack of capacity
If you lack the internal capacity to continuously reflect and examine all parts of the business, then it will be very difficult to achieve organisation-wide business agility. Without this capacity, improvement opportunities are missed and the transformation cannot evolve in line with business evolution.
Read more
Business Agility Roadblock #4 – Your Vision Doesn’t Align to Your Values
There is no point in pursuing business agility if you’re just going to swarm around bad ideas. First, you need to make sure that the ideas driving your business forward are first-rate. To do this, you need to reorientate value and vision.
Read more