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Forget strategy, embrace agility

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The key elements for success today are not plans and aspirations, but agility and capabilities. Capabilities (or access to capabilities) are required to compete effectively in a given position, and agility is required to make shifts in that position in response to a changing environment (see Figure 2).

Coming back to our athlete: Mo Farah succeeds not only because he is fast, but also because he adapts to the cadence of a race. He is a master of positioning, and he sets himself up for a winning finish. Sometimes he wins from the front, but more often than not, he comes from behind to take the lead in the final lap.

Farah has phenomenal capabilities but limited agility. He may be able to adapt to the changing dynamics of a race, but he would be completely lost if he had to compete in the high jump, on a bicycle, or on a tennis court. A more extreme form of agility is required by organizations as they move to the center of the digital vortex, an environment characterized by high market turbulence and shifting industry boundaries.

At the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco initiative, we define this extreme form of agility as digital business agility (DBA). DBA is composed of parts: hyperawareness, informed decision-making, and fast execution.

Staying aware of opportunities and threats

Hyperawareness is a companys ability to detect and monitor changes in its business environment. Organizations need to be able to see opportunities and threats as they emerge. Most companies are only hyperaware about themselves! Often, they struggle to understand the changing dynamics within their industries. Much has been written about the dangers of organizational complacency, and this begins with a lack of hyperawareness.

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