Introduction

Business Agility is the quality that prepares companies to respond to ‘unknowns’ and ‘unknowables’. Business agility gives an organisation not only the ability to react to unexpected events, but the capability to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine.

Managers talk about Business Agility in different ways. Some say they want to build high-performance organizations or gain competitive advantage. Others talk about total quality management, fast cycle time systems, self-managing work teams, empowered organizations, improving their innovation and productivity, finding core competencies – but in essence they all refer to building learning organisations because in the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is an organisation’s ability to learn faster than its competition.

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In this series of writings we’ll be sharing some of our experience in practice of Business Agility from early implementation to establishing a working environment with new habits and approach to product development and service provision.

Using our experience of introduction of transformational changes to organisations and the ripple effects of the changes across the companies’ operations and culture we’ll describe the actions that lead to both intended and unintended consequences and delve into the role of the employees and the leadership in forming a new way of thinking and relationships among the individuals and the collective. We’ll discuss how, in practice, to change the habits of producing better products and services, and responding to changing business needs and environments, quickly moves onto increasing the adaptive capability of the entire business by addressing its maturity and capacity to adjust the managerial, strategic and operational capabilities for sensing, preparing and responding to complex environmental changes. We’ll argue that attaining Business Agility is creating systems that nurture building learning organisations. In the following sections we’ll discuss the components of such systems.

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