Organizational Agility, the key to survival in a competitive world

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was surfing the web and happened upon a fantastic research paper written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).  The article is titled: Organisational Agility: How business can survive and thrive in turbulent times. In 2009, The EIU conducted a survey of 349 executives around the world on the benefits, challenges, and risks associated with creating a more agile organization. 

People Meeting

 

According to the article:

“Of the 349 executives to responded, Sixty came from the UK, 59 from France, 53 each from Germany and Singapore, 49 from the US, 46 from Australia, 18 from Canada and 11 from New Zealand.”

"Executives from 19 different industries took part in the survey, 44% of whom had revenue of US$500m or less and 31% with revenue of US$5bn or more. Board members and C-level respondents comprised 43% of respondents, while senior directors and department heads made up an additional 31%. The survey included responses from a range of business functions and industries.”

The results of the survey support how important Adaptive Leadership and Organisational Change Management service offerings are in helping companies survive and thrive in uncertain times.

I’ve summarized the article in 4 points below or you can jump to the conclusion:

 

Organisational agility is a core differentiator in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

Nearly 90% of executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit believe that Organisational Agility is critical for business success. One-half of all chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) polled agree that rapid decision-making and execution are not only important, but essential to a company’s competitive standing. Agility may also be linked to profitable growth: research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that agile firms grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile companies.

 

Most companies admit they are not flexible enough to compete successfully.

While the overwhelming majority of executives view Organisational Agility as a competitive necessity, actual business readiness is more mixed. More than one-quarter (27%) of respondents say that their organisation is at a competitive disadvantage because it is not agile enough to anticipate fundamental marketplace shifts.

 
Internal barriers stall agile change efforts.

More than 80% of survey respondents have undertaken one or more change initiatives to improve agility over the past three years, yet 34% say they have failed to deliver the desired benefits. The main obstacles to improved business responsiveness are slow decision-making, conflicting departmental goals and priorities, risk-averse cultures and silo-based information.

Technology can play an important supporting role in enabling organisations to become more agile. Technology should function as a change agent in the use and adoption of best-in-class knowledge sharing processes, so companies can improve their use of critical data. 

 

In Conclusion

Whether it's 2009 or 2017, organizations need to become more agile to succeed in the future.  As brilliantly stated in the research paper, “When the ground rocks, structures must flex. The same is true for companies competing in today’s turbulent environment. Organisations that are best able to anticipate market movements, re-emerge from the worst system shocks and take advantage of gaps left by those unable to withstand the brunt will win. Doing so requires Organisational Agility.  For most companies, the path to Organisational Agility involves transformation, the ability to whittle away at inefficiency and regroup around what is truly core to the business. While the task may appear daunting, there are a number of steps that management can consider to lighten the burden of change:

Optimise core processes.

By minimising excess spending and non-core programmes, companies can better direct limited resources to satisfying customer expectations, activities that position a company well not only during times of recession but also for long periods of growth.


Minimise information silos.

Barriers to change include conflicting departmental goals and priorities, a culture of risk aversion and silo-based information. By reducing silos, business leaders can improve collaboration inside and outside their enterprise and better align departmental goals and performance measures with overall strategy.


Integrate and automate fundamental knowledge-sharing processes.

Such integration will enable IT to advance an organisation’s ability to problem-solve, improve decision-making and convert information into insight.

 

I highly urge everyone to read the rest of the article: http://graphics.eiu.com/marketing/pdf/EMC_OrganisationalAgility.pdf

 

Jeff Klabish (jklabish@altavia.com) is the Organisational Change Management Practice Director at Alta Via Consulting LLC.  Jeff is a Certified Agile Scrum Master and over his 20-year career has worked with several Fortune 100 clients prepare for uncertain times.


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