Building an Agile Business Culture

At this spring’s annual NAMA Show, NAMA Board Chair Jeff Smith discussed the idea of creating an agile culture within your business. “We’ve worked hard to ensure that our culture empowers our employees and values the concept of team,” said Smith.

Just like it sounds, an agile business structure flexible and moves easily. Smith said that it is important for the convenient service industry to continue to adapt to changes in technology and in consumer preferences. “In my view our industry’s continued success will be based on having an agile culture, one that embraces change,” said Smith. “We as leaders need to embody an agile mindset. The tried-and-true ‘way we’ve always done it’ won’t cut it today.”

According to McKinsey & Company, an agile business culture contrasts with a static, distinct pyramid-like hierarchy where the flow of information is slow and collaboration is minimal. An agile structure model still has stable top-level leadership in place to vision-cast, provide direction and empower, but also puts employees on one level to promote efficiency and transparent communication. According to McKinsey & Company an agile organization has a network of teams in a “people-centered” culture that works rapidly, enabled by technology and a common purpose. These teams are able to work fast, make changes quickly and constantly adapt to market demands. Expectations and responsibilities are clearly communicated and understood in these successful dynamic organizations. Authority and responsibility spread throughout the team works to increase engagement and productivity. Agile organizations are not reluctant to try new things and empower employees to take risks. It is also important for technology to be integrated within everything an agile company does. Rather the pulling technology along where they’ve always headed, an agile culture sees the impact technology is having on the market and adapts to the needs of the customers.

Agility within the U-Select-It culture is important because it helps us better service our customers. USI is able to stay on the forefront of industry demands and consumer expectations. We have visionary leaders who have been in the business decades and decades. Some of our leaders have even grown up coming to the office and plant as a young child learning from their father! Also, our experienced engineers work closely with our plant workers to design and manufacture equipment to maximize vendors’ profitability. We work together in close communication with each other to design custom machines to fit the needs of our clients. Our Evoke Snack 6 machine was designed by a team to include a full-sized tray, room for taller products and a 10.1 inch touch screen for promotions, advertisements, browsing and purchasing. We have adapted our practices and equipment to utilize advancements in technology to best serve our customers. The new Push-It dispensing system is different from the standard coil selections most machines have. Instead, the Push-It tray eliminates misloading while also displaying product more attractively. Removing coils also makes room for more product and makes restocking and adjusting selection sizes easier too. USI employees work together in a flexible culture empowered by leaders to reach new goals while being united with the common vision of meeting our customers’ needs.

Putting employees in the best situation for them to be successful and empowering them to achieve, is important for any organization. Is your company doing something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” and the structure there is assumed? Don’t be reluctant to try something new to become a more agile organization that has teammates working together and empowered to reach new heights. What vision do you people need to spur your people on to do their best work and serve your customers better? We encourage you to take some time and assess how rigid and static your organizational model is and what changes you can make to increase communication, share responsibility and work with more efficiency.