6 Principles to Build Your Company’s Strategic Agility
Lately, companies that successfully navigated the pandemic crisis were able to deviate from their strategic plans and adapt to the changing environment in three distinct ways: avoid the worst impacts, absorb a lot of damages, accelerate forward faster and more effectively than their peers (the 3 As of strategic agility).
Strategic agility is the ability to improve performance amid disruption. It can be broken down into six principles, guidelines to help organizations leverage disruption proactively to their advantage.
The first A of avoiding considers these principles:
1. Prioritize speed over perfection: opportunities come and go quickly during a crisis, so organizations need to be ready to act even if they sacrifice quality.
2. Prioritize flexibility over planning: in a crisis, a strategic plan can easily become an anchor that locks an organization into a path that is no longer relevant.
Other two principles are related to the ability to absorb damages and reduce negative impacts of crisis:
1. Prioritize diversification and “efficient slack” over optimization: many organizations struggled – and some failed – during the pandemic because they were felled by a single devastating blow. In many cases the root of this problem was either a lack of diversification or an overemphasis on efficiency and optimization.
2. Prioritize empowerment over hierarchy: systems are most vulnerable at their weakest points. A hierarchy is most vulnerable at the top. Empowered teams, by contrast, are inherently robust. Since they are decentralized, no single strike or crisis can take them all out.
The last two principles concern acceleration:
1. Prioritize learning over blaming: organizational cultures that reward risk taking and tolerate failure move more quickly than those that do not. Not taking risks, in a crisis, can be fatal.
2. Prioritize resource modularity and mobility over resource lock-in: during crisis, it is hard to effectively plan the allocation of resources. It is important to build resources that are modular and/or mobile so they can be reconfigured and moved as needed.
While we will eventually see the end of Covid-19 crisis, there is no doubt that organizations will continue to face other challenges situations in the future. Under these circumstances, incorporating avoidance, absorption and acceleration can be the difference between survival and collapse.
[Complete article, “6 Principles to Build Your Company’s Strategic Agility”, available at https://hbr.org/2021/09/6-principles-to-build-your-companys-strategic-agility]
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