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Brain circuits

Six questions to test your company’s agility

Published 4 February 2022 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

Every company should be striving towards strategic agility, which we define as the ability to improve performance during disruptions. This is the critical factor in companies that not just survive but thrive during hard times. We have identified six key principles that contribute to strategic ability. Test where you stand on it with the following questions:

Which would you prioritize: Speed or perfection?

In a crisis, opportunities come and go quickly, so acting fast is more important than quality.

Which is more important: Crafting a strong plan or maintaining flexibility?

While strategic planning is great and a key to mapping a long-term road map showing you how to play to win, in a crisis the plan can lock you into a path that may no longer be relevant. You need to be willing to throw out even a well-crafted plan if the landscape makes a dramatic shift.

Which takes a higher priority for you: Diversification or optimization?

Companies that overemphasized efficiency and optimization did not fare as well as more diversified companies during the pandemic. Diversification is a great hedge against unexpected shocks in the market.

Which structure do you think works better in a crisis: A hierarchy or empowered teams?

If you said empowered teams, you are correct. Since they are by nature decentralized, no single blow can take them out.

Does your company embrace failure?

Part of the reason you may be reading about how to thrive in hard times is no one likes failure, but you must be willing to embrace it if you want people to take risks. In a crisis, it’s even more important to take risks, as it is key to moving quickly.

Are your resources locked down?

They shouldn’t be. It is important to allocate your resources in a way that they can be moved or reconfigured quickly in a crisis.

While the COVID-19 crisis will eventually come to an end, there will always be something else unforeseen on the horizon, so it is important to ensure your company is agile enough to weather future storms.

Further reading: 

6 Principles to Build Your Company’s Strategic Agility

by Michael Wade, Amit Joshi and Elizabeth Teracino

Authors

Michael Wade - IMD Professor

Michael R. Wade

Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD

Michael Wade holds the Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation and is Director of IMD’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. He directs a number of open programs such as Leading Digital Business Transformation, Digital Transformation for Boards, Digital Execution, Digital Disruption, and the Digital Transformation Sprint. He has written ten books, hundreds of articles, and hosts a popular management podcast. In 2021, he was inducted into the Swiss Digital Shapers Hall of Fame.

Amit Joshiv - IMD Professor

Amit M. Joshi

Professor of AI, Analytics and Marketing Strategy at IMD

Amit Joshi is Professor of AI, Analytics and Marketing Strategy at IMD and program director of the Digital Analytics program, the Artificial Intelligence course, and the Business Analytics for Leaders course. This research builds on his 2020 paper (co-authored by Allègre L. Hadida, Joseph Lampel, W. David Walls),  ‘Hollywood studio filmmaking in the age of Netflix: a tale of two institutional logics’, published in Journal of Cultural Economics (2020).

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