by how ast they ollow moves madeby their competitors.
Plenty has been written about the virtues o agility. In 2007, Whartonpublished
Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility Will Keep You Ahead Of The Game
. In the 1980s,
explored the topic,notably with its landmark article ontime-based competition. And decadesago, then General Electric chie Jack Welch was amously preaching aboutspeed and responsiveness.However, much has changed—andcontinues to change—to orce companiesto institutionalize their approachesto agility. And much has happenedto enable them to do so: Witness therapid advances in analytical sotware. Yet when it comes to exactly
tobecome agile, pragmatic advice isharder to nd.The good news is that many moreexecutives are now ready to acceptchange. Gone—or at least going—isthe refexive urge to stick to tried-and-true ways o doing things or the sense o helplessness that marketturbulence has so oten engendered.Here’s how the chie nancial ocer o a global hospitality provider describes the new mood: “We hadto decide whether we were going toavoid the market uncertainty witha hunker-down mindset or seizeit as an opportunity. I think muddlingin between is the most risky. Withthe right mindset, this is a antastictime to be in business.” What previously were viewed asonce-in-a-lietime events havebecome permanent eatures o thebusiness landscape. As one utilitiesexecutive recently told us, “Thisindustry is not supposed to be rockedby changes in technology—and thenshale gas emerged.”Most business leaders can reelo myriad examples o volatilityrom their own recent experiences.But what is less obvious is the
Few business topics are soter than agility. It’s one o thoseconcepts that everyone thinks they grasp. But it’s a dierentstory when it comes to deconstructing the concept andcoming up with practical ways to put it into action.To anchor our understanding o agility, we should startwith the dictionary. According to Webster’s
,the denitions are: 1. The ability o being quick and well-coordinated in movement; nimble. Active, lively. 2. Marked byan ability to think quickly; mentally acute or aware.Here are the components o agility that matter most in abusiness context.
This means developing a view o possible or likelychanges—not trying to predict actual changes. Anticipatingincludes a rigorous review o customer needs and industryorces, and an evaluation o likely scenarios o industryconsolidation, product development, pricing and customer needs.
This involves continual reviews o marketconditions, looking or trends and especially anomalies incustomer behavior, competitor moves, supply chain shits,supply/demand changes, and macro- and microeconomicdevelopments. It requires strong analytics capabilities.
The key is to respond to market shits asterthan competitors do. This includes rapid decision making,testing responses on a pilot basis and then scaling or abroader response. It requently includes preset “plays,” wheremanagement teams have agreed ahead o time how they willrespond to certain situations—or instance, to a price dropby a competitor or the merger o two rivals.
Once initial market changes have been identied,organizations oten nd that they need to rework some o their business processes. Some may tailor their organizationalstructures to better handle ongoing changes in their markets.
Business agility dened