The idea of business agility is not new, but the commonly held understanding of agility supports the notion that it's ultimately about processes, and that processes must 'flex' to respond to changes in business requirements. But business processes are often locked into inflexible organisational structures that evolve over time and largely echo management thinking; probably formed around management priorities that at some point in time met a prevailing market need. The risk is, that by jumping to the belief that agility is about 'processes', the internal procedural manual, the way the organisation approaches new opportunities and threats, the way managers are trained to think, how the organisation structures its resources to achieves its desired outcomes - all of these factors that are key to the success of organisations in the 21st century remain unchanged. (It is ironically the case that sometimes greater formality in processes can improve the agility of organisations!).
The term 'Agilization' defines the process of transforming enterprise behaviour from one form, modelled by 20th century corporations, to another that meets the competitive imperative of organizations of the 21st century to always fit their most profitable markets. "Agilization - The Regeneration of Competitiveness" explores how society is changing the environment that commerce operates within. The book goes on to describe a new way of working and thinking that will come to characterise behaviours of successful corporations in the 21st Century. Leaders will encourage the adoption of these new behaviours because they want to achieve sustainable growth in highly competitive markets. We are fast approaching the tipping point when the attitudes and behaviors of the 20th Century enterprise are no longer sustainable. Captains of industry can not hope to be successful by closing their eyes to the external environment and hoping that the sea remains like a duck pond, that obstacles will not interfere with the progress of the ship or that the destination doesn't move. Society itself is changing rapidly. The business environment is in a constant state of flux.
We live in the 24-hour, global markets of the digital 'participative' age. These conditions are creating new market dynamics. In response, business models must change ever more rapidly. The 'agilized' enterprise is the only enterprise behaviour that promises sustainable profit growth in the hyper-competitive markets of the 21st century.
* Ian Tomlin is a market analyst, theoretician and innovator. During his career, Ian has assisted several global electronics companies to enter the European market with products and services targeting the office worker environment. In the late 1990's Ian became interested in customer insight and business transformation. Ian re-wrote the balanced-scorecard method into a more practical and efficient workshop programme and has introduced new tools and techniques to capture and analyse customer value. * Nick Lawrie has a track record in senior financial management and operational roles. When serving as European Finance Director for a Fortune 500 company in the 1980's and through the 1990's, Nick became one of the first FD's to introduce Shared Service Centres for the finance function in Europe. In the late 1990's Nick moved into Strategic Marketing within the IT sector and has won awards for his writing and editorial content within the business press.