James Henderson is Professor of Strategic Management. He is an expert on strategic agility, or the development and implementation of strategy under uncertainty. His research focuses on competitive strategy, corporate strategy, digital transformation, ecosystems, sustainability, and strategy execution.
Henderson says agility is all about an organization’s ability to respond to changing situations and to balance current performance with the exploration of opportunities for future growth. It may, therefore, involve an options-based approach in which small investments are made in projects with potential so they can be scaled up quickly if necessary, but without any major commitments if they don’t prove to be commercially viable. His research in this area has focused on investment timing, corporate venturing, strategic partnerships, and ecosystems.
He says agility takes different forms when applied to digital or sustainability transformation. Digital transformation initiatives usually incur rapid change cycles where getting it wrong can be quickly corrected. On the other hand, sustainability transformation initiatives often require long-term investments in physical infrastructure, where companies need to be sure that the economics are right before making heavy commitments. However, he notes, conditions for sustainability transformations are now changing due to growing political will to support the transition to new sources of clean energy.
Armed with two decades of deep research and executive education insights, I support executives on developing, co-creating, and executing successful business or corporate strategies in an increasingly rapid-cycle-digital or long-cycle-sustainability world.
Henderson has also recently explored the topic of inclusive strategy, finding that giving employees and stakeholders a bigger say in strategy can foster greater engagement and understanding and thereby give firms a competitive edge.
He has helped many companies achieve and sustain their competitive advantage at a business unit, corporate, or global level through directing custom-specific executive programs, facilitating strategy workshops, or teaching MBAs and executives. He has designed, delivered, and directed programs for companies in a variety of industries including healthcare, aerospace and defense, capital-intensive industries, professional and financial services, high technology, consumer products, and economic development agencies.
At IMD, Henderson is Director of the Strategic Partnerships (SP) online course and Co-Director of the Leading Sustainable Business Transformation (LSBT) open program. He was also Director of the International Consulting Projects component of the MBA program between 2008 and 2021, and Dean of Programs and Innovation between 2012 and 2016, overseeing the doubling of the institute’s EMBA program, the redesign of its Program for Executive Development diploma, the launch of its Global Leadership in the Cloud portfolio of online programs, and the development of the Global Leader Index assessment tool.
He coedited the 2005 Strategic Management Society book Restructuring Strategy: New Networks and Industry Challenges, and his articles have been published in well-known journals such as the Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of Operations Management. He also sits on the editorial board of the Strategic Management Journal. Furthermore, he has developed more than 50 published case studies and won several research and teaching awards.
Before joining IMD in 2006, he was an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Babson College and Babson School of Executive Education in Boston, Massachusetts.
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