Big corporations, by nature, maneuver like battleships. Held back by their own inertia and current business strategies, turning quickly can be difficult when the competitive environment changes. Likewise, high performance as measured by shareholder returns is impossible to sustain over a long period of time. No company consistently beats the market.
A recent in-depth study of long-term performance, however, suggests an alternative point of view about business strategy. A few large companies outperform peers when the measure of performance is profitability. They maintain this performance edge even during a significant business change in their competitive environments. Agility is one factor that differentiates them from others.
Agile companies adapt business change more quickly and reliably than competitors. Even as battleships, they have learned to turn quickly as speedboats. Learning the routines of agility makes them be at the forefront of competition.
The Link Between Agility and Performance
A survey was conducted to determine the link between agility and performance. The survey was focused on determining the way organizations formulated strategy, designed their structures and processes, led their people, and made changes and innovation.
More than 4,700 Directors and Executives from 56 companies were surveyed, of which 34 companies were Fortune 500 firms.
The survey was able to find out that when markets and technologies changed rapidly and unpredictably, the outperformers had the capability to anticipate and respond to events, solve problems, and implement change. As such, this enables Agile companies to easily adapt. Agility is not just the ability to change – it is a cultivated capability that enables organizations to respond in a timely, effective, and sustainable way when changing circumstances require it.
Many an Agile organization involves 4 complementary sets of activities, what we will call Agile Activity Groups.
The 4 Agile Activity Groups to Managing an Agile Company
- Dynamic Strategy Development. This is having a clear, relevant, and shared strategy that is undertaken with 3 key activities integrated within the strategy.
- Market Environment Response. This ensures an effective response to the implications of outside signals. Market Environment Response provides an accurate sense of what is going on in the environment.
- Response Refinement. This encourages innovation and tolerates failures. These are insights refined from the perceiving routing with a relatively high number of low-cost experiments.
- Change Management. Change Management is the mastery of internal program management capabilities needed to convert successful test and innovations into widespread practice. It builds the company’s capability to adopt unambiguous commitment with speed, certainty, and precision.
With the 4 Agile Activity Groups, Competitive Advantage is gained through an ongoing series of advantages that exploit current business conditions.
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