5 Things Agile Organizations Track

A recent social media challenge is spreading around the internet, called the #10YearChallenge. The challenge allows users to show how a decade has changed them, often for the best — especially in our case:

This comparison is quite revealing when applied to US businesses’ revenue. Here are the top ten biggest companies from CNN Money’s Global 500 of 2009:


Compare that to 2018’s Fortune 500 numbers:

In only a decade, new companies have emerged, and companies that once ruled the marketplace lost their top spots.

The key for companies looking to grow or retain their market share is their agility, so we’ve identified five factors that agile organizations try to keep a pulse on.

1. Best Practices

One of the biggest changes between the 2009 marketplace and today’s marketplace is the realization of digital marketing as a viable way for businesses to increase their sales.

Walmart notably rode the wave of digital dominance, offering e-commerce and adapting their business model to compete with Amazon. As a result, Walmart was able to grow and move up two spots to number one in 2018.

Digital marketing is now a best practice, one that smart businesses started exploring as soon as it emerged. These organizations truly had a pulse on the coming change.

We’re not sure what the next renaissance in marketing, sales strategy, or customer success will be, but keeping a close eye on trends will certainly help to future-proof your organization. 

Best practices for agility include knowing when to adopt new trends and when to wait for more proof-of-success, and knowing how changes in business practice will affect your organization.

2. Their Competitors

Once again, Walmart is a great example of a company who successfully monitored their competitors to protect their market share.

Amazon’s historic rise in the past decade has caused Walmart to quickly adjust their strategy. Walmart’s online delivery, e-commerce, seller’s marketplace, and in-store pickup options are all new services that help the retail giant compete with Amazon’s digital dominance.

That type of agility has paid off, reports Business Insider — Walmart’s attention toward its competitors has allowed it to maintain a top spot in a constantly shifting retail market.

3. Market Trends

Agile companies have a deep understanding of external and internal factors that affect their markets. Apple is a strong example of this.

In 2009, the top-selling cell phone was the Nokia N900. Remember Nokia? While the company is still in operation, Nokia is no longer the leading phone supplier, nor does it have a model in 2018’s top-selling phones.

Instead, the market is flooded with models from agile companies who understood the massive impact the iPhone would have on the mobile phone market.

Companies that were able to quickly develop smartphones, innovate user experience, and predict trends now dominate the mobile phone market.

The incredible evolution of the mobile phone in the past decade can trace its roots to the agile companies pushing the envelope by anticipating and creating new market trends.

4. The Talent Market

Organizations that excel at agility are actively striving to be attractive workplaces for talented people in every field. In recent years, that’s meant perks like virtual work, wellness initiatives, pet-friendly offices, and the rise of the catered lunch. Beyond the perks, they focus on the true drivers of employee engagement and retention, like the capability of managers to lead well and providing all employees with opportunities for advancement.

Agility is driven by ideas and the people who make them reality. That means almost all initiatives to improve agility should be secondary efforts for companies who first need help attracting and retaining top talent.

5. High-Potential Employees

Agile companies understand that a lot can change in an instant. Whether it’s the early retirement of a valuable leader or an unexpected market crisis, a number of events could trigger a situation where high-potential employees may need to step up.

Organizations that are prepared for unforeseen change work to identify and develop high-potential employees, teaching necessary skills while building flexibility in their workforce.

Agility is a crucial component for successful organizations. By tracking these five factors of agility, you can help your organization be prepared to work through expected and unexpected challenges!

To learn how employee development builds agility and helps to retain talent, check out our blog post, “Achieving Business Agility Through Modern Employee Training.”

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.