Agility in the toughest of times

While most industries were already dealing with market disruption on many fronts that placed traditional business and operating models under severe pressure, these trends have been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis.

In response, companies have leveraged remote working, reimagined how they serve customers, created new business models, enhanced technology capabilities, assembled multi-disciplinary teams and partnered well beyond traditional boundaries.

Organizations that already had an intelligent operating model in place (built-in agility, guided by purpose, combining new ways of working with technology) were better positioned to deal with the crisis. However, many others have gained speed and agility they may not have thought possible beforehand. And they won’t want to lose it.

Maintaining speed and agility

Across the C-suite there is a lack of confidence in the ability of current operating models to meet market and competitive changes.

Instead of turbo-charging performance, they act as a drag on new strategies aimed at boosting growth and innovation.


According to 94% of C-suite executives, their operating model puts their organization's growth and performance at risk.


What’s more, 85% say they are not very confident that their operating model can meet shifting strategic priorities.

More and more companies are adopting intelligent operating models. It’s an approach that pays off: The long-term EBITDA growth for truly agile organizations is 16 percent compared with six percent on average for non-agile organizations.

Those that wish to follow suit will need to address the myths of agile head-on.

Myth 1: Speed and agility= growth, not efficiency

When moving to agile ways of working, companies can often drive up costs by layering on new agile project-based constructs which add complexity or by re-organizing tasks without questioning their value. When done right, agile can significantly boost efficiency, as well as drive growth.

Myth 2: You can "squad" your way there

Speed and agility cannot be achieved by simply establishing "agile methods" or moving employees into "squads". Organizations must continuously reconfigure and a new set of operating model building blocks are required, with the right structures, processes and technologies.

Myth 3: It’s all about piloting and scaling

Piloting and scaling are crucial. But success is unlikely without addressing changes to processes and systems. Too many companies assemble project teams running agile methods and expect processes and systems will "catch-up".

Myth 4: Everyone needs to be co-located

Co-location was often viewed as a pre-requisite for highly collaborative teams, but COVID-19 forced a massive migration to remote working. Those that couldn’t rise to the occasion are struggling.

Myth 5: You need a blank canvas

Complexity and legacy systems make agility harder to achieve but not impossible. Before starting the journey, companies need to focus on the value they’re trying to drive and define the acceptable organizational impact.

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Myth versus reality

To gain true speed and agility, companies must tackle head-on the myths surrounding intelligent operating models. They must reimagine the very essence of their business. While we can’t predict what will happen next, no matter the scenario, agility will be critical. Companies need to design their organizations with agility embedded across the enterprise and build the necessary muscle to continuously optimize and adapt.

Now is the time for companies to reimagine their operating model and create a new competitive reality that propels them ahead of their competitors.

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