Organizational Culture & Values

Fend off disruptive outside factors with business agility

Is agility on your horizon? 

We have always scanned the horizon for outside forces which will impact our business, good and bad, for which we need to ready ourselves.  It’s embedded in the essence of the classic SWOT analysis of our internal Strengths and Weaknesses to deal with external forces which are Opportunities and Threats.  Even more effective is taking an environmental scan for trends — good and bad — as early warning signs of opportunities and threats. These threats usually fall somewhere in the classic list of categories:

  • Industry structure
  • Substitutes
  • Competition
  • Customers/Buyers
  • Technology
  • Socio-demographic
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Political/Regulatory

But here’s the problem:  You can bet that Blackberry was doing comprehensive SWOT analyses and environmental scans ever year, probably using one of the big consultancy firms and paying millions for it.  Sony, too.  Major taxi-cab companies, too.  We could go on and on. Yet, it didn’t stop these from being on a slippery slope of declining performance.  Why?  Because change has changed, but the majority of leaders have not changed with it.

Change has changed.

We now live in an accelerating world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) creating disruptive outside forces in every industry – no industry is immune.  New and novel VUCA is coming at us thicker and faster than ever before and the only safe assumption is that disruption will be here bigger, faster and sooner than we think, with few second chances, resulting in accelerated obsolescence.

Therefore, we must have the mental agility to spot weak signals on the fringe of our radar scope. We must be scanning with a contemporary lens to see new and novel stuff taking shape, to see it coming before it sees us coming like a fool!  Looking at our radar scope through an old, used-up and out-of-date lens means we won’t see new and novel VUCA coming until it’s too late.  It remains too fuzzy, or our lens isn’t granular enough, or we brush it off because it doesn’t fit our view of the world embedded in our lens.  Think Blackberry.  Think Sony.  Think Taxi-Cabs.  Fragile, not agile.

Agility is the only competitive advantage which has any permanence these days. Everything else is increasingly temporary, increasingly quickly.

The majority of leaders have not changed with it.

In their 2015 “Why Agility Pays” study, McKinsey concluded that only 12% of companies were in the agile minority.  88% remain in the fragile majority.

Agility is the ability to cope with rapidly changing circumstances while out-executing our competition and stakeholder expectations (of customers, employees, vendors, debt-holders/shareholders)

Our experience is the same.  My colleagues and I in agility consulting and training work with startups to global companies in a small minority who are undertaking an agility-transformation journey.  The majority are not.  Why?  Because they don’t know where to start.  A good place to start is with VUCA radar scanning, to bring the fringe into focus and to begin generating a sense of urgency.

The VUCA report

To help with that, we created The VUCA Report.  It’s the easiest way for you and your team to remain VUCA-aware, tracking 35 disruptive trends (and counting, as participants identify more), 15 agile capacities required to survive and thrive and curating best practices to leave the fragile majority and join the agile minority. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel like Blackberry, Sony, Taxi-Cab companies.  Stay awake at the wheel.

Agile forecasting & budgeting for 2017

Participating in The VUCA Report will help you forecast and budget for 2017 with the inbuilt agility required.

  • Read next month: Agile Forecasting & Budgeting for 2017.

This is essential to be part of your ongoing, dynamic process of strategy with the inbuilt agility required:  Advance Your Strategic Plan with an Agile Strategy Process.


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Category: Organizational Culture & Values

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Mike Richardson About the Author: Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson is an agility pioneer, dedicated to cracking the code of organizational agility for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, making possible tomorrow what seems impossible today with Learn More

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