Monday, November 21, 2011

Organizational Agility

The Economist Intelligence Unit published a paper entitled "Organizational agility: how businesses can survive and thrive in turbulent times." The paper is based on in depth interviews and surveys of 349 executives around the world on the benefits, challenges and risks associated with creating a more agile organization.

The report finds that organizational agility is a core differentiator in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Agility may also be linked to profitable growth as research conducted at MIT suggests that agile firms grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile companies.

Yet most companies admit they are not flexible enough to compete successfully. The report finds that internal barriers stall agile change efforts and the main obstacles to 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 organizations 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.

The report concludes there are a number of steps that management can consider to lighten the burden of agile transformation:

  1. Minimizing excess spending and non-core programs so companies can better direct limited resources to satisfying customer expectations. 
  2. Minimizing information silos so business leaders can improve collaboration inside and outside their enterprise and better align departmental goals and performance measures with overall strategy. 
  3. Integrate and automate fundamental knowledge-sharing processes to improve decision-making, convert information into insight and enable IT to advance an organization’s ability to problem-solve. 
The complete report and survey results can be found here.