Corporate agility


Everyone thinks they know what agility is. Those who are agile are agile and flexible, adaptable, willing to change, and open to innovation. And that refers, in the corporate world, as much to the way of understanding and thinking about leadership as it does to approaching processes. Conversely, the opposite of agile is cumbersome, encrusted, and unable to act promptly at the right moment. It is obvious that this cannot be a particularly promising approach in a complex new world of erratic market changes, disruptive technology developments, and rapidly changing business models. And so, unsurprisingly, a great many companies in Switzerland also declare in the tone of voice of conviction: Agile? Of course, we are already agile or are doing everything necessary to become even more so in the future. This self-assessment is particularly pointed in TIME industries (Telecom, Internet, Media, and Entertainment), as a study by Roy C. Hitchman AG shows.

Conducted between June and July 2018 among 277 Swiss executives from a wide range of industries, the same study also suggests, however, that it is often more a matter of gray theory. In most cases, there are neither formal agility concepts there, nor is the topic specifically addressed and promoted in the company. The danger therefore lies in the fact that the term agility remains a buzzword, a commonplace that everyone wears on their lips and which, for this very reason, no one really needs to take seriously. This is fatal because various international studies (for example, the one conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in March 2017) clearly show that (truly) agile companies are economically more successful.

The conclusion of the 9th Hitchman Executive Panel is, therefore, quite clear: Swiss companies need to get serious about becoming more agile. But what can be mastered by smaller start-up companies with a pinch of effort and an ounce of goodwill, poses much greater challenges for traditionally organized companies. How can they also succeed in anchoring agile principles in their organization, personnel processes, resource allocation, and leadership models? Roy C. Hitchman AG presented this question together with the survey results to a panel of experts.