October 2020
2 minutes

Strategic Agility

Planning is everything, the plan is nothing

Strategic agility means being permanently prepared, to anticipate and to initiate changes in direction at an early stage. ( Image: Flamingo Images/shutterstock.com)
"We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it." (Peter Drucker)

Successful strategic work is based on agility. Unfortunately, agility is often equated with driving many things at the same time and frequently changing direction. This is a misunderstanding of agility.

Strategic agility means being permanently ready, anticipating and initiating changes of direction early on. To achieve this, 3 essential things have to be considered in strategy work:

1. Work with more intermediate steps

At the beginning of each intermediate step, an evaluation of what has already been achieved and a review of the underlying assumptions for their validity takes place. In an agile world, you manage into a direction and not towards an objectives that lies far in the future. Objectives are set more narrowly, their achievement is closely examined and, if necessary, adjusted at short notice.

2. Allow fuzziness in the strategic analysis

Detailed competitor and market analysis and understanding the changes along the value chain are important. Over-weighting the analysis can nevertheless limit strategic agility. We should focus on the activities and not let the urge to analyze paralyze us. This requires courage and the willingness to allow uncertainties.

3. Anticipative thinking and acting

What sounds inconsistent in the first moment becomes clear when you think about it further. Agile thinking and acting requires anticipation and foresight. Objectives become even more important. But: The path to the objective has to remain flexible. It is necessary to question and change objectives in short cycles when previous assumptions lose their validity. In strategic work, this means more foresight through shorter cycles.

An effective lever for agile strategic management lies in the strategy process itself.

Continuous monitoring of the environment, thinking and acting in scenarios, simulations, cross-unit cooperation, breaking free from the corset of the fiscal year and a functioning impact and implementation controlling are starting points for more agility in strategic work.

The future belongs to those who proceed anticipatively and proactively.

This requires apermanently increased strategic readiness and begins with the own mindset. If the cultural basis for agile thinking and acting is available, organizational learning effects and a sustainable time advantage over the competitors arecreated, which ultimately makes the difference.

Your Ronald Herse

As part of our 4-part series
Strategic Management 4.0, the next article focuses on the topic of "Alignment & Networking".

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