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Can a business advisor be too agile?


Can a business advisor be too agile?

The ability to adapt to any client need and respond appropriately is a key capability for a successful advisor, promoting customer loyalty and increasing engagement value. I’ve seen for many years that the most successful advisors facilitate effective change rather than simply consult, using their agility to deal with both short and long-term client needs. With agility becoming the new norm, advisors are no longer going to be able to rely on a scripted approach but will have to pivot as the circumstances dictate.

Agility may be one of the latest buzz words, but it’s with good reason. The benefits of organisational agility are clear, seventy percent of agile companies rank in the top quartile of organisational health according to the McKinsey & Company article ‘Why agility pays?’ which outlines the ten management practices that differentiate the most agile companies (which I think could just as easily translate to successful advisors):

  1. Role clarity
  2. Top down innovation
  3. Capturing external ideas
  4. Process-based capabilities
  5. Operationally disciplined
  6. Internally competitive
  7. Meaningful values
  8. Knowledge sharing
  9. Inspirational leaders
  10. People-performance review

But the question is, can an advisor be too agile? After all, every client engagement is different.

For example, a micro business may be able to move quickly, responding to opportunities and acting on changing circumstances, whereas a larger organisation may be change-fatigued, cash poor with conservative leaders and a bureaucratic infrastructure.

As an advisor, you need to have more than one speed to accommodate these differences. Flat out like a ‘bull in a china shop’ trying to implement too many initiatives at once may quickly burn a change-resistant or stressed client and lose you the business. I’ve seen numerous examples of where an enthusiastic advisor has gone in too hard and burnt out a client struggling to cope with the day to day running of a business and unable to deal with high rates of change.

Successful advisors find a balance, using their emotional intelligence to understand when a client is losing interest or becoming anxious and adjusting their intensity accordingly. The more emotionally connected we are with clients and ourselves, the higher value of engagements and the speed of improvement we can achieve. The value of emotional connection can be quantified, according to the Harvard Business Review article The new science of customer emotions as customers’ relationships with a brand deepen to become fully connected, they are 52% more valuable on average than those who are ‘just’ highly satisfied. Being respectful of the dynamic within a client means that an advisor can be relevant not only for a single workshop or project but also for the long term, increasing the customer’s lifetime value.

In summary, agility has strong benefits both for organisations and advisors, but advisors should be mindful of the ‘human’ element within organisations and adjust their level of intensity accordingly to promote extended relationships.

Good luck!

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