Hey executive! A few tips to make your organization strategically agile

“The only thing constant is change”
– Heraclitus

We know your job as an executive is getting tougher and tougher no matter in what business you´re in. Operating environment is getting more and more competitive, fast based, complex, turbulent and blurry. You have probably noticed that the “old” way of thinking about the strategy and competitiveness won´t guarantee your organization´s success anymore. Strategy can´t no longer be done as a periodic planning exercise conducted in your organizations boardroom behind locked doors; planning for half a year, implementing for 3-5 years and then evaluating the strategy and building a new one – there is no time!

Say hello to agile strategic thinking! Through it, your organization is able to make fast turns and to transform itself without losing momentum. And we don´t mean simply adjusting to change, but thriving on the waves of change and becoming number one.

A few tips on how to make your organization strategically agile:

Open up – One important element, even precondition for strategically agile organization is openness, not only for market change, but also regarding business model, organizational practises and innovation processes. Most importantly, strategic agility requires new kind of openness regarding information and knowledge. Organizations cannot continue to rely solely to the brilliant minds inside them or to the traditional information channels, but need new ways to tap into tacit knowledge and to build new kind of partnerships with both users, suppliers and other stakeholders, utilizing the potential resources as widely as possible (see Chesbrough, 2011). So build your organization’s mindset to embrace the spirit of collaboration, co-creation and open innovation (check a short introductory on Open innovation).

Spark passion within your management teams – Thriving on the continuous waves of change requires both fast and integrated organization-wide decision making and execution that is free of office politics. Begin with creating the right kind of culture within your management teams since management can be either the enabler or the obstacle of the organization´s success (see Harvard Business Review´s recent study on the topic). Promote management team´s common passion towards organization´s vision, strategy and objectives through

  1. organizational models that create interdependence,
  2. active interaction between the management team members,
  3. management team´s renewal and
  4. making yourself as the example of agile leadership.

Your role as an executive is to inspire and to set an example. See this inspiring video of Simon Sinek to get more insight on how to inspire action within your organization.

Create uncontested market place – Instead of focusing merely on numbers, set your view to big picture and create a leap in value. With blue ocean strategy (Chan & Mauborgne, 2005) you can achieve higher profit margins and differentiate easier.
Blue ocean strategy introduces series of useful tools, such as strategy canvas and eliminate-reduce-raise-create grid, to identify where you are, where do you need to go and what needs to be done in order to get there. Navigate away from the fiercely competed red oceans and head into the blue oceans by creating new demand among non-customers with value innovation. Blue Ocean Strategy is must-to-read-book (or at least 2:48 minutes to watch) for any executive, who is willing to take organization to new uncontested market place and thus making the competition irrelevant.

Co-Create with your customers –  Today’s and future competition is based on the meaning of value, the roles of customers and organizations, and mostly on the nature of their interactions. Today’s customers are heterogeneous and must be considered as individuals. Customers are active co-creators and value is seen as what they experience. The market itself can be considered as a forum for these experiences of co-creation. To be on top of things and to conduct competitive and agile strategies, you as an executive should also act as a co-creator in this rapid forum and create value with customers. (based on Prahalad, Ramaswamy, 2004)

Text by Laurea SID students: Ainokaisa Kostamo, Terhi Pennanen, Erkki Salo & Petri Tiainen.


This blog post and the above “to-do-list for executives” was created as an assignment in SID course Strategic service innovations and changing business models. It is based on a review of the following four well known business books that have offered both thought provoking ideas as well as concrete suggestions on company executives on how to enhance competitiveness and innovativeness in the time of their publication.

Chesbrough, H., 2011. Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era. Jossey-Bass.

Chan, K., W.  & Mauborgne, R., 2005. Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Boston, Harvard Business School Press.

Doz, Y. and Kosonen, M., 2008. Fast Strategy, How Strategic Agility Will Help You Stay Ahead of the Game. Wharton School Publishing.

Prahalad, C.K. and Ramaswamy, V., 2004. The Future of Competition: Co-Creating of Unique Value with Customers. Harvard Business School Press.

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