Nestled in the pages of The Economist was a flyer from one of the Big Five Accountancy firms. The topic of this flyer was performance improvement through ‘Business Agility’. Apparently the term (Business) Agility is going mainstream. Recently I even heard a senior executive at a presentation for operational managers saying that this term was already outdated and that we should look beyond agility to a new way of working.
As it so happens (of course not a coincidence), the title of an article I published last April started with ‘Beyond Agility’. Copied below is the introductory paragraph. Click on the title to read the complete article.
Beyond agility, evolutionary IT-systems and business processes
What organizations can do to ‘survive’ and why agility does not work.
The Financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 has strengthened the idea that in order for organizations to ‘survive’ they should be able to quickly adapt to new market circumstances (Heifetz, Grashow & Linskey, 2009). This ability to adapt, is called ‘Agility’ (Hugos, 2009). Agility however, will cause an organization eventually to fail and go ‘extinct’ (Douma & Schreuder, 1998).
Instead of looking at agility we should take an Evolutionary Approach to organizations. We know how organisms survive. Applying the same theory to organizations, will explain more about their survival (Hannan & Freeman, 1989; Nelson & Winter, 1982).
Applying the theory of evolution to IT-systems and business processes tells us what organizations can actually do to stay alive (Davenport, 1993; McAfee, Brynjolfsson, 2008). As a result, an organization’s survival depends on successfully implementing evolutionary IT-systems and business processes.