In the Keene small business community, there’s a lot of discussion about agility.

The issue was highlighted at Hannah Grimes’ recent CONNECT event. The keynote speaker, Don Byrne, CEO of Metrix411, suggested that “defining agility is like nailing Jell-O to a wall.”

He went on to say that, “you’ll know agility when you see it.” You’ll see it when your company identifies opportunities from continuously scanning the marketplace for its constant changes then selects a new path for success.

What resources do you need to make it happen? The first is a culture of anticipating change with contingencies that adjust realistically to those changes. A company that recognizes a threat to its viability early enough can make the adjustments with flexible leadership. This means reading the faint signals of change then amplifying them to find the right response.

Relevant trends are the prologue of business success and leadership that is flexible can guarantee it. Understanding the current realities and seeing the future with a clear focus more easily transforms a company through the obstacles then onto greater longevity. Further such leaders start with the metrics they feel are important then work backwards from there to make them happen.

Leadership and opportunity are not enough to be agile — you need agile employees. What are their characteristics? Agile people understand that in the problems, disruptions and obstacles they confront are various opportunities to take advantage of. They persevere, take trends to a predictable course of action, are not afraid to fail when creating solutions and are continuously learning new skills. They see themselves as change agents and keep an effective balance between the core business and the changes needed for future success.

Agile employees are committed to the process of change, and have the courage to experiment with new options. Their mascot is the turtle that makes progress when it sticks its neck out.

There are few slow changing companies and industries today. There is really no definitive process, skill, or activity that defines agility. I’ve identified the factors that characterize some of the work I do. As with any game-changing initiative in business, a generous amount of good luck is very helpful.

Bob Vecchiotti is a business adviser and professional coach in Peterborough. He lives in Dublin.