The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance

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A research-based approach to achieving long-term profitability in business

What does it take to guarantee success and profitability over time? Authors Christopher G. Worley, a senior research scientist, Thomas D. Williams, an executive advisor, and Edward E. Lawler III, one of the country's leading management experts, set out to find the answer. In The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance the authors reveal the factors that drive long-term profitability based on the practices of successful companies that have consistently outperformed their peers. Of the 234 large companies across 18 industries that were studied, there were few companies that delivered sustained performance across the board. The authors found that across industries, the most successful companies were not the "usual suspects" found in the media, but companies who possessed a quiet agility that allowed them to quickly perceive and respond to changes so that they could continue to grow. Agility gives organizations the ability to adapt to fluctuations in the environment, test possible responses, and implement changes quickly. This book offers specific, research-based case studies to help organizational leaders use agility to achieve sustained profitability and performance while also becoming more adaptable to a changing marketplace.

For executives, leaders, consultants, board members and all those responsible for the long-term health of organizations, this insightful guide outlines:

  • The components of agility for business organizations
  • How to successfully build agility within an organization
  • How agility has its foundation in good management practices
  • How to use agility to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace
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About the author

Christopher G. Worley is Senior Research Scientist at the University of Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations. He is also professor of management at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Thomas Williams is a Senior Executive Advisor at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) where he consults to large global companies on issues of strategy, organization, and management systems.

Edward E. Lawler III is Director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California and Distinguished Professor of Management and Organization in the USC Marshall School of Business.

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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Jul 22, 2014
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781118821411
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Management
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Christopher G. Worley
In-depth agility evaluation for a more efficient response to change

Assessing Organization Agility provides a clear, concise roadmap to improved implementation of change. Written by two organizational researchers at USC's Center for Effective Organizations and a management consultant with Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), this book provides the means for assessing an organization's agility and formulating an improvement plan. Beginning with a discussion about the meaning of "agility," the authors enumerate the various contributing factors that affect how quickly an organization responds to change, and the efficiency of the response. An agility survey shows readers how their own organization compares in terms of both perception and implementation, allowing the formulation of an "Agility Profile" that can point out strengths while highlighting areas in need of improvement. Case studies demonstrate the real-world impact of effective agility strategy, and example scenarios illustrate improved responses by each agility "type."

Eighty percent of large-scale organizations fail to meet their objectives, and poor agility is often to blame. Organizations respond to changes in the marketplace, economy, and society by implementing changes in their processes and procedures, but planning and implementing change takes time. During that time, the context of the initial decision frequently evolves, leaving the organization one step behind. Agility is the ability to quickly implement change without sacrificing strategy, and Assessing Organization Agility helps readers to:

Discover the organizational/operational factors that contribute to agility Assess current agility from all perspectives, highlighting areas for improvement Implement processes and procedures that streamline change events Maintain forward trajectory with adjustments to strategy and implementation

The current pace of technical, competitive, and environmental change is faster than ever before, and response requirements are far more complex and sophisticated. In this turbulent environment, agility can mean the difference between success and stagnation. Assessing Organization Agility asks the questions and provides the answers that lead to better organizational reflex and more effective response.

Susan Albers Mohrman
Stewardship entails a profound understanding and acceptance of the challenges that result from the organization’s interdependence with the societal and ecological contexts in which it operates—and of what it takes to embrace the challenges to be a force for building a viable future. This book dares to ask ‘why’ business leaders should embrace stewardship in the current market where profit reigns supreme. A shift in approach represents fundamental change for the corporate world, and even the most advanced corporations consider themselves to be in the starting block of this transition. The book sets out the practical ways in which corporate stewardship can be achieved through embedding new approaches across the different functions of a business.

This book, written by the leading thinkers in sustainability research, provides practical guidance on how companies can resolve the paradoxical challenges they face. How can they be at the same time profitable and responsible, effective and ethical, sustainable and adaptable? It explores what businesses are doing, what they can and should do to effectively respond to external challenges, and focuses on how leaders can create cultures, strategies, and designs far beyond “business as usual”.Stewards must not only make proper current use of that which they hold in trust, they also must leave it in better condition for use by future generations. Corporate Stewardship challenges managers, executives, and directors of global corporations to think and act as stewards of both their organizations and the physical and social environments in which they operate. 

Christopher G. Worley
An in-depth example of The Agility Factor in action

Becoming Agile: How the SEAM Approach to Management Builds Adaptability illustrates the process of becoming an agile organization. Reflecting the principles presented in The Agility Factor, readers are taken on a real-world journey of transformation and change. This short-format case study of the French company Brioche Pasquier highlights how one organization successfully implemented the principles of agility using the socio-economic approach to management, detailing each step of the process and describing how every decision brought the goal closer within reach. Readers get inside the heads of decision makers to gain insight into how tough decisions were made, how new, important, and flexible management tools were implemented, and how the necessary changes ultimately benefitted both the organization and the people who made it work. From overarching policy to day-to-day procedure, the story provides a clear example of how an agile organization is developed, giving readers a foundation upon which to implement similar changes in their own organization.

Smart companies understand the importance of agility, but identifying where and how to initiate those first steps often leads to paralysis by analysis. This case study allows readers to learn from an organization that got through the inertia and put the principles of agility into action, with incredible results.

Understand how the principles of agility can be implemented using a specific intervention strategy Tailor those principles to suit any organization Calculate and convert the "hidden costs" of traditional organizational design into flexible, value added activities Formulate and execute an actionable agility strategy

Big changes require a deep understanding of the problem at hand, and a viable plan for steering the organization in a better direction. By seeing how it's been done before, organizations can take a proven approach and tailor it to their specific needs. For those tasked with formulating the agility strategy, Becoming Agile: How the SEAM Approach to Management Builds Adaptability provides invaluable insight.

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