Requirements for Agility

By Faisal Hoque  |  Posted 2010-04-20 Print this article Print

Conventional wisdom says large, established companies cannot be agile. That's not the case.

Enterprisers have three requirements for achieving agility.

As previously discussed, a sense-and-respond capability is needed. Companies must facilitate learning from various processes to respond to changes in their environment. This learning must operate at different levels and within different areas of the firm and should be based on recurrent sense-and-respond cycles. Business technology can facilitate these learning processes by supporting the collection, distribution, analysis and interpretation of data associated with business processes; and generating response alternatives, decisions on appropriate courses of action, and orchestrating selected responses.

Next is an emphasis on improvement and innovation. Business agility combines improvement and innovation responses. Opportunistic firms emphasize improvements, but often fail to foster innovations. They follow best practices, listen to the customer, and are good at improving current capabilities. Innovative firms, by contrast, are focused on innovating processes through new technologies, services and strategies. They generate “next” practices, but have a limited focus on fine-tuning current operations. When market pressures are high and the environment is turbulent, the ideal is an agile firm that combines improvement and innovation initiatives to constantly reposition itself. Agile firms are able to improve existing practices and innovates new ones because they have an enterprise architecture in place that forms a construct in support of the overall strategy.

Finally, having distributed and coordinated authority is key. Agile firms must adopt radically different forms of governance and translate their mission and objectives into information that can easily be interpreted by constituents. These firms must replace traditional command and control approaches with mechanisms that facilitate coordination within and across locales. These mechanisms must provide individuals, groups and units with the autonomy to improvise and act on local knowledge, while orchestrating coherent behavior across the firm. Processes—the assignment of task and responsibilities—must be supplemented with personal accountability.

The Converged Company

One sign of a converged company is that the people making decisions on business and technology are the same people – they are conversant in both. They have an understanding of the business mission and an appreciation for the technologies that enable it. However, enterprises that fail to take a multi-disciplinary approach can’t move quickly or intelligently to seize advantage or respond to threats.

The quest for success in an organization today begins with repeatable, day-to-day disciplines through the converged management of business and technology.
Research conducted by the BTM Institute has shown that genuinely agile and innovative organizations have moved towards the convergence of business and technology management.

Convergence relies upon repeatable, cross-disciplinary management capabilities that will drive agile, innovative, extended enterprises. Convergence occurs in the establishment of organizational structures, processes, information flows and automation that unite decision-making from the boardroom to the project team.

Converged organizations are able to adapt and move rapidly in response to events and change. This is a direct result of the two “sides” of an organization acting in unison with full knowledge of what resources they have available and what they need to do to act on an opportunity or a threat.

Agility is the catalyst.
Survival is enabled.
Success is the result.

To hear Faisal speak more about Achieving Business Agility through Convergence, visit him at Impact 2010. To learn more about the event, visit: www.ibm.com/impact


Faisal Hoque (www.faisalhoque.com) is the founder and CEO of BTM Corporation (www.btmcorporation.com). A former senior executive at GE and other multi-nationals, Faisal is an internationally known entrepreneur and thought leader. He has written five management books, established a non-profit institute, The BTM Institute, and become a leading authority on the issue of effective interaction between business and technology. © 2010 Faisal Hoque

Faisal Hoque, Founder, Chairman and CEO, BTM Corporation Faisal Hoque is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Business Technology Management Corporation. BTM Corporation innovates new business models, enhances financial performance, and improves operational efficiency at leading global corporations, government agencies, and social businesses by converging business and technology with its unique products and intellectual property (IP). A former senior executive at General Electric (GE) and other multi-nationals, Mr. Hoque is an internationally known, visionary entrepreneur and award winning thought leader. He conceived and developed Business Technology Management (BTM) to direct the social and economic growth of organizations by converging business and technology, helping transform them into "whole-brained enterprises." He is the author of "The Alignment Effect," "Winning the 3-Legged Race," and "Sustained Innovation," among other publications.

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