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Forget strategy, embrace agility

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However, hyperawareness is only valuable if the resulting data and information is used productively. Informed decision-making is a companys ability to make the best decision possible in a given situation. To do this, data and information must be analyzed, scaled, packaged, and distributed throughout the organization. Data transparency, stable IT systems, advanced analytics, and a knowledge sharing culture play important roles in this capability.

Finally, informed decisions create value only to the extent that they can be implemented. Fast execution is a companys ability to carry out its plans quickly and effectively. This is where the majority of organizations struggle the most. The capability to execute quickly requires a willingness to experiment and a tolerance for failure.

The capability to execute quickly requires a willingness to experiment and a tolerance for failure.The traditional role of strategy is dead, but that does not mean that planning is also obsolete. A set of rolling short-term operational plans can be even worse than locking into a long-term objective. Plans are needed, but they must be constantly assessed and adapted along with changes in the environment. In some cases, they need to be discarded. Apples decision to enter the payments business, GEs decision to divest GE Capital, and Teslas movement into battery production all represent significant shifts in direction based on a keen understanding of shifting marketplaces.

In the words of Manulife Financial CIO Joe Cooper, “Knowledge is a 20th century differentiator.” In the 21st Century, knowledge about the past is ubiquitous (Google knows it all), and the future is largely unknowable. Thus the ability to be agile - to sense, decide, and act quickly - will replace strategy as the key driver of organizational success in the future.

Michael Wade is the Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation, and Professor of Innovation and Strategic Information Management at IMD. His interests lie at the intersection of strategy, innovation, and digital transformation. 

 

 

 

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