Volatility. It’s all around us. It can be driven by external factors—financial crises, stock market turmoil, natural disasters, regulatory changes—or disruptions within an organization—leadership changes, mergers, the launch of a new IT system. One client recently described his frustration amid all the uncertainty this way: “I can no longer tell people to work hard until things get back to normal. This is normal.”
But to achieve high performance, organizations must be able to navigate this volatility, anticipate marketplace shifts and respond decisively. In other words, to cope successfully with the economic uncertainty around them, they must be agile.
For a large, complex corporation, of course, that’s easier said than done. Two years ago, when Accenture surveyed 674 executives around the world, nearly half told us that they had little confidence in their companies’ ability to mobilize quickly to capitalize on market shifts; half didn’t believe their culture was adaptive enough to respond positively to change.
This is changing, however. In our client work and conversations with business leaders worldwide, we are encountering more and more high performers who have not only become masters of agility but in the process have found ways to turn volatility and market turbulence to their advantage.
Our observations and analysis are the basis for a special report in this issue of Outlook that looks at how corporate agility works from six different perspectives—or “lenses,” as we have called them: leadership, strategy, finance, operations, marketing and organization.
As one of these agile executives told us, “It’s only volatility if you don’t understand it or don’t know how to respond.” I hope that his experiences and insights and those of his peers are helpful as you work to create your own agile organization.