Given volatile markets, the ability to quickly act is fundamental for companies – in regard to the internal production and to external supply flows in the value network. Related flexibility and adaptability concepts are vague and contradictory. Managerial methods either imply a generic application level or a narrow focus. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to develop a three-step approach to facilitate a well-directed flexibility and adaptability design within a build-to-order context: context-specific operationalization, thorough segmentation using advanced logistic criteria and purposeful deduction of improvement means. Based on a thorough literature review, a procedural approach is developed and applied within two rigorously conducted company-cases. A triangulation setting is used within the empirical analysis. A company's capability to act appropriately, quickly and economically in the face of volatility can be remarkably advanced through context-specific analysis and well-reasoned segmentation. A respective approach to enhance flexibility and adaptability has to regard rational, emotional and cultural aspects. The literature review is selective, not exhaustive. Two case studies cannot cover all thinkable aspects. The findings illustrate how flexibility and adaptability measures can be designed purposefully within a company-specific approach. Two potential directions of impact – uncertainty reduction and flexibility/adaptability improvement – are consolidated into significant criteria and applied to thoroughly classified areas in a feasible way. Current approaches do not apply a company-specific operationalization approach and are not based on segmentation or are using limited criteria. Besides, most approaches are neither designed for quick operationalization nor continuous application.