Only Still Agile – Or What?

No doubt, our world is becoming ever more complex. The digitalisation will transform our society and companies are searching desperately for answers to this dynamic. In this regard, we are experiencing everything during the change spectrum: Companies which panic as they implement change processes in order to be the first at any price, but also others who, as before, are constantly ignoring these changes in their business environment and hope that everything will be over as soon as possible – and clearly, there are then also companies in which both exist. But is it really only about being the first or the best as the system theory oftentimes makes clear to us? Perhaps, history will answer that for us, but I think there is in any case also a path which doesn’t stray to extremes and functions “more humanely” (or as I often say: “brain-friendlier”).


Recently, I came upon a blog article with the title “Between the Extremes – How to Maintain Control While Retaining All Agility” which also gave me the idea for this blog article. There is no doubt that everything has become faster today. We have attained a productivity which would have still been inconceivable only a few years ago. That has also brought us today’s wealth, but also a dynamic which is difficult to master. In order to be able to keep pace with this speed and radicalism of innovation, the companies must become faster and more flexible. That agility is oftentimes considered to be a solution in this regard is no surprise. Thus, this is also quickly associated with the hope that: The more agile the company is, the greater success it will have. 


But as we know, there are always several paths to success. The aforementioned blog article referenced in this regard that we also receive helpful tools in the general system theory and the systemic evolutionary theory: “In a world which is disintegrating energetically, all (energetic) systems are compelled to reproduce themselves. In this context, all changes take place. This also applies in the same scope for business systems. If a system must alter its system state, then this can, simply regarded, occur in two ways. One can be the first or one can be the best.” Only what does that mean?


Ultimately, every organization does everything in order to survive. To assert itself in a niche is often a very useful strategy in this regard if we understand this to entail being sufficiently innovative (otherwise, we would be quickly ousted from the niche). To be the best once again means being sufficiently efficiently – and our competition plays out between both these poles, but both worlds require different methods. The choice of the right methods can be made only based upon the correct analysis of the environments and the business model. The question of whether agility is the right choice can thus not be definitively answered. The decisive question is WHY we believe that agility can support us with our strategy. Agility is no end in and of itself, it can only be the path to success.


In practice, it is often necessary these days to combine proven and successful methods of the past with agility’s potential. In organisational research, we then speak of “dual organisations”. This term is used to refer to the ability of a company to be active simultaneously in both the efficiency mode as well as also in the innovation mode. In this regard, agility will help us to fulfil the innovation-oriented requirements.


Thus, today more than ever, we must differentiate in the organisational development regarding which part of the organisation needs innovation. It no longer merely concerns the survival of an organisation, but rather the survival of sections of the organisation. We must be open-minded to other new methods, but nonetheless neither demonise nor forget our traditional world. During the change process, we still have people who for the most part come from this world and were successful in it. If we increase the curiosity about innovation, we will also quickly and palpably feel the enthusiasm for the agility.

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