Strategy for Innovative Agility | Trust Trends 2014 Series

Success, let alone survival, demands an ability to quickly respond to fast-changing markets and environments.

Financial squeezing, increased digital commerce, cutting-edge Big Data technology, increasing distrust in big institutions, and quickly changing markets has given way to innovative strategies for agility. Small organizations are more insightful, and larger organizations are more agile. In addition, new financial systems are being developed, entrepreneurs have an opportunistic outlook, SME’s are thriving, and agile systems of all types are being developed to replace outdated, bulky, and bureaucratic systems. 

Scale Paradox of Big Data

Big Data’s shift from Wall Street to Main Street is changing operation for big and small companies.  Big companies are becoming more nimble, smart and quick. Small companies are becoming more researched, thorough, and precise.[i]  Hefty market research strategies are becoming obsolete. Instead, organizations of all sizes are crunching vast piles of information in nimble, context driven marketing. [ii] [iii] Individuals who sort through this information, data scientists, have created an entire new job description, and it’s evolving as Big Data technology improves.  Deloitte’s Tom Davenport, describes data scientists as, “a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted adviser.”[iv] Among the many capabilities of the Big Data revolution is R&D. When combined with social media and other online outlets, research teams can gain instant customer reviews, suggestions, and insights for improvements.[v]


Alternative Finance


Banks and financial services companies rank as the very least trusted industries, and their corporate culture of greed and the low-morality leaders seem to be to blame, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.[vi] “Who needs banks anyway?” notes IMD strategy professor Thomas Malnight, in response to the broken financial system.[vii] Consumer demand for alternatives is growing, and some, such as digital wallets, community currencies, and crowd-funding are being offered. [viii] Exacerbating consumer interest, demand is growing from worsening banking scandals, European crisis shockwaves, and sequestration.  Crowd-funding and bit coins are two hot approaches.


Success for Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses

Globally, small businesses are more trusted than large business 70% to 62%, and in the USA, the spread is more absolute at 86% to 55%, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Confidence in small business is up, and so is their outlook.[ix] Although they are being plagued by higher gas prices, rising payroll taxes, and federal sequestration cuts, 2013 began with fewer SME’s relying on credit card debt and more than usual paying bills on time. This led to Dunn and Bradstreet increasing the Small Business Health Index by 3.2%.[x] This proves to be an excellent thing for America, where family firms account for most of America’s wealth. Whether entrepreneurs have ideas for pinpointed local markets or Blue Ocean strategies, the outlook is good and the opportunities are endless. [xi]


More Models for Agility

As organizations feel the squeeze from government cuts and increased taxes, other more agile models must be developed. Employee healthcare programs are being re-designed, as only 12 of Fortune’s Top 100 Places to Work companies can afford to pay health care premiums, in comparison to 100% of them paying premiums several decades ago.[xii] As alternatives, companies are shifting to lighter healthcare coverage, employee options, and employee wellness programs. More agile systems are being designed and introduced in every sphere. Car sharing, 3D printer manufacturing, pay-by-the-hour bicycles, shared workspaces, 3rd space retailing, mobile wallets, and loyalty rewards programs are a few examples. [xiii] Lastly, enterprise social networking is one of the most pervasive adaptations. Engaging through social media outlets builds brand awareness, gathers customer feedback, and saves on marketing resources.


Why this matters

“In a world where change is more prevalent and rapid, global innovation management will be the key to success – particularly for companies in mature markets. Future market leaders will be entrepreneurial, agile companies. The need to make and execute decisions quickly has never been greater.” – Ernst & Young[xiv]

  • Going agile is a paradigm shift and it takes time. Those that don’t will lose a competitive advantage to quicker, smarter competitors.
  • Agile technologies provide deep insights at low costs.
  • A recent Deloitte survey found that 93% of c-level executives believed they are losing revenue opportunities by not devoting enough attention to taking advantage of data they collect.[xv]
  • The stage is set, now more than ever, for leaders to influence the world for positive.
  • Organizations are seeing shorter and less smooth business cycles, with greater need for agility.[xvi]
  • Transparency is highly valued for building trust, and online outlets help to develop this trust.[xvii]


How to seize the embedded opportunities

  • Emphasize development of the competency and clarity pillars of The Trust Edge.
  • Train your team to think and function in your agile systems.
  • Implement the trustworthy characteristics of local SME’s into your organization.
  • Consider investing in a crowd-funded project.
  • Share the vision often and trust your team members to be resourceful in developing solutions.
  • Get a patent to protect your IP and get the ball rolling for development.
  • Remember that your corporate and talent brand are two sides of the same coin. Hire people who will uphold your brand and encourage your teams to consider the company brand with how they interact both online and offline.
  • Use systems of agility that will save time and increase precision for your systems. Don’t get bogged down in the hottest new thing for agility though; do your research and recognize what is relevant for your company.
  • Stay up to date in quickly finding the best tools for your organization’s online data-gathering strategies. Make sure not to get bogged down trying every new tech tool.
  • 90% of SME’s don’t have mobile optimized sites. Get one and gain a competitive advantage.
  • According to Best Places to Work’s report Building Trust in Business 2012, trust declined by 10-17% in leaders modeling and reflecting company values and demonstrating commitment to employee development and effectively communicating the organizations vision, mission, and strategy.[xviii] Gain a competitive advantage by doing these things.
  • Implement what the Edelman Trust Barometer calls “The new mandate,” where leaders share the vision to activists, the community, customers, and employees to gather feedback and adapt. Essentially listen and adapt.
  • Utilize social media to engage, build brand awareness, offer value, and gather feedback.
  • Key opportunity for competitive advantage: big data insights.


[i] Business Trends 2013. Deloitte.

[ii] The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013. Entrepreneur.

[iii] TNS Financial Insights Small Business: Top 10 Trends for 2013.

[iv] Business Trends 2013. Deloitte.

[v] Andrea Simon, PhD. Ten Business Trends from the Trenches for 2013.

[vi] Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer. Edelman Research at Edelman Public Relations. Retrieved on 5 May 2013 from

[vii] Malnight, Thomas, Professor of Strategy. The Economist. Top Trends for Business Leaders.

[viii] A Top Ten for Business Leaders. The Economist. The World in 2013.

[ix] Andrea Simon, PhD. Ten Business Trends from the Trenches for 2013.

[x] Outlook on Small Business Failure and Recovery. Dunn and Bradstreet.

[xi] Andrea Simon, PhD. Ten Business Trends from the Trenches for 2013.

[xii] Caccamese, Leslie. Trends from the 2013 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.


[xiv] Planning for Growth: embracing the new normal – adapting to change. Retrieved on 18 August 2013 from–embracing-the-new-normal—Adapting-to-change

[xv] Business Trends 2013. Deloitte.

[xvi] Wile, Rob. Megatrends: The 6 ‘Gamechangers that will impact the plant for decades. December 2012. Retrieved from

[xvii] The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013. Entrepreneur.

[xviii] Building Trust in Business 2012. Interaction Associates & Human Capital Institute. Retrieved on 20 April 2012 from

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