Stéphane JG Girod

Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation

Stéphane JG Girod is Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation. His research, teaching, and consulting focus on the development of business agility in response to the many forms of disruption faced by organizations in today’s world. He sets out his thinking on the topic in his book Resetting Management: Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty. He has particular expertise in the luxury sectors and leads IMD’s Luxury 2050 initiative.

Girod helps executives and established companies to foster agility at the strategy, organizational, and leadership levels in response to digital, (de)globalization, and other forms of disruption. He is an expert on linking agility and digital transformations.

The main mindset shift that agility requires is to understand that uncertainty can become your ally, rather than something that should be feared or ignored.

In Resetting Management: Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty, he explains why business agility now matters more than ever and shows how it can release a new level of energy, innovation, and entrepreneurship that will enable organizations to be future ready. Rather than advocating a formulaic one-size-fits-all approach, the book outlines pathways towards calibrating the right type and degree of agility for every company’s unique circumstances.

Agility is particularly important in the luxury sectors, which are experiencing multiple rupture points. The IMD Luxury 2050 initiative is a platform offering solutions to help luxury brands prepare today for the longer-run, big, strategic, operational, and cultural challenges they face. These solutions bring together IMD’s unique competences in terms of dedicated innovative pedagogical activities, cutting-edge thought leadership, and access to a vibrant community of alumni working across a wide range of luxury industries.

Girod’s work in the luxury space is increasingly focused on helping luxury brands develop and implement purposeful and sustainable strategies. In addition, he works on business agility across a range of other sectors including retail, automobile, pharmaceuticals, and banking, and he has designed customized learning journeys for numerous organizations who appreciate his hands-on approach and ability to keep sight of the bigger picture while also paying attention to detail. He has directed programs for Richemont, Puig, Mazda, Telenor, Midea, Bally, and La Prairie and has taught on custom programs for many others.

He is also Director of IMD’s Reinventing Luxury Lab open program and Co-director of the Digital Execution course.

His research has appeared in leading journals such as Harvard Business Review, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Long Range Planning, Journal of Business Strategy, and European Business Review, and he is co-editor of a California Management Review special issue on business agility which is due to be published in 2023.

Girod writes a regular column in Forbes on disruption, innovation, and agility in luxury industries, and his thought leadership has been covered by media outlets such as China Daily, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Women’s Wear Daily, BBC News, Télévision Suisse Romande, Valor Econômico, La Vanguardia, Tribune de Genève, Luxury Society, HandelZeitung, and The Times. He is also the author of numerous case studies, including ones on Rabobank (agile leadership), Lamborghini (future-readiness and transformation), Chanel, and Chloé (both on sustainability).

Before joining IMD in 2016, he was Assistant Professor of International Business and Strategy at Henley Business School and a Manager of the Accenture Institute for High Performance in London. He previously occupied several international development roles in leading luxury goods companies for markets such as France, Italy, and the Middle East and speaks seven languages.

Selected publications
Article
Five strategies for building a new-style luxury customer community
Luxury brands are set to pay more attention to customer community strategies, as I explored in my previous article. It’s essential to stay relevant and become more purposeful as customers are incre...
Published 31 January 2022
Case Study
[email protected]: Agile leadership at Rabobank
Rabobank had become one of the agile frontrunners in Europe’s banking industry. As the company entered the next phase of its transformation, known as [email protected], it needed to take stock, not on...
Published 24 June 2022
Case Study
Chanel 1.5°: A sustainability journey
In a short span of five or six years, CHANEL embraced CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental, social, governance) initiatives that stretched far beyond its established comfort...
Published 16 December 2021
Resetting management: Thrive with agility in the age of uncertainty
Book
Resetting management: Thrive with agility in the age of uncertainty
The ability to renew competitive advantage with flexibility is essential for any business in today's turbulent world. How do you go beyond trendy buzzwords and master the principles of business agi...
Published 29 June 2021
Article
How organizations can design for agility and embrace uncertainty
Before the pandemic, global cosmetics giant Clarins Group was making headway in its digital transformation. A family-owned business founded in France in 1954, with annual sales estimated at US$1.5 ...
Published 12 April 2021
Article
How luxury brands can beat counterfeiters
For years, the luxury industry has waged a battle against counterfeiters. These efforts are not paying off. The total trade in fakes is estimated at around $4.5 trillion, and fake luxury merchandis...
Published 24 May 2019
Book Chapter
Reorganization – restructure or reconfigure?
Stéphane Girod and Samina Karim asked what kind of reorganization companies needed to cope with ever-changing market conditions. They could either restructure, that is, create an entirely new organ...
Published 6 August 2019
Academic publications
Resetting management: Thrive with agility in the age of uncertainty
Book
Resetting management: Thrive with agility in the age of uncertainty
The ability to renew competitive advantage with flexibility is essential for any business in today's turbulent world. How do you go beyond trendy buzzwords and master the principles of business agi...
Published 29 June 2021
Article
Change escalation processes and complex adaptive systems: Fom incremental reconfigurations to discontinuous restructuring
This study examines when “incremental” change is likely to trigger “discontinuous” change, using the lens of complex adaptive systems theory. Going beyond the simulations and case studies through w...
Published 1 October 2015
Article
Reconfiguration, restructuring and firm performance: Dynamic capabilities and environmental dynamism
Reorganization has been proposed as a key dynamic capability. This study compares the performance outcomes of two forms of reorganization, differing in their pervasiveness: organizational restructu...
Published 1 May 2017
Insight for Executives
Article
How digital is making luxury (relatively) more democratic
Luxury brands have come a long way since the early 2010s when they were in denial of e-commerce. Across sectors, luxury actors are now embracing digital opportunities throughout their operations an...
Published 6 December 2022
Agility is what you need to future-proof your business  
Article
Agility is what you need to future-proof your business  
Any company that wants to last needs to learn the art of agility, best understood as creating flexibility and fostering entrepreneurship at the strategic, organizational and management levels.
Published 20 May 2022
Article
Luxury watch brands are showing how circularity and sustainability can co-exist
There has been a sudden enthusiasm amongst luxury brands for embracing the resale model to both increase revenues and meet their sustainability targets. This is true for watches too. After all, ...
Published 11 May 2022
Article
How an ex-Apple executive spearheaded the first MBO of Switzerland’s high-end watchmaking world
In a historic, first-of-its-kind management buyout for horologery, Kering – the French multi-national group with 15 brands under its wing – sold its two Swiss watch brands in January this year: Uly...
Published 10 April 2022
Article
Three ways to take sustainability beyond greenwashing in luxury  
Luxury firms can strategize to find that sweet spot between growth and a positive social and environmental impact.
Published 24 February 2022
Article
Mastering strategic agility comes down to learning how to minimize strategic trade-offs
Strategic agility is a difficult concept to unpack as there are so many ingredients to it. Two-thirds of participants in a webinar given by Professor Stéphane J.G. Girod said they considered it.
Published 11 February 2022
Article
Five strategies for building a new-style luxury customer community
Luxury brands are set to pay more attention to customer community strategies, as I explored in my previous article. It’s essential to stay relevant and become more purposeful as customers are incre...
Published 31 January 2022
Article
Luxury brands need to strategize better on customer community, here’s why
Sephora, the French multinational retailer of beauty products created in 1970, has been able to keep Amazon (founded in 1994) at bay in the beauty category. How so when both companies offer custome...
Published 21 January 2022
Article
The winning formula
Research has demonstrated that competitive advantage in business, today, erodes faster than in the past. Evaluating this evolution, many studies have advised companies on how to focus on intraprene...
Published 1 September 2021
Article
Breitling shows other luxury brands how to future proof with agility
Many argue that, in the wake of COVID, the odds are now in favor of the biggest luxury groups and that independent players are doomed. LVMH’s gobbling up of yet two more brands this summer, Off-Whi...
Published 27 August 2021
Article
Winning at the Olympic games : ‘It’s a question of time,’ says Omega
No other brand is more actively involved in sports timekeeping than Omega. In addition to partnerships in golf, sailing, athletics and swimming, it will have been the official timekeeper of the Oly...
Published 13 July 2021
Article
The dark side of agility
A business leader’s main task is to align the company with its external conditions. Today’s environment is characterised by high turbulence and uncertainty. With digital, industry boundaries are bl...
Published 5 July 2021
Article
Luxury is learning to deal with the contradictions of sustainability
If sustainability was first defined by the UN as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” then a sustainable brand should re...
Published 1 July 2021
Article
Winning with organizational design
Research has demonstrated that competitive advantage in business today erodes faster than in the past. Evaluating this evolution, many studies have advised companies on how to focus on intrapreneur...
Published 28 June 2021
Nimble or stable, complex or simple? Legacy businesses don’t need to make these choices if they are truly agile
Video
Nimble or stable, complex or simple? Legacy businesses don’t need to make these choices if they are truly agile
Non-digitally native companies can benefit greatly from having a better understanding of agile methods which may help them thrive in uncertain environments.
Published 21 May 2021
Article
Here's why billionaire Zhang Yiming's candid memo about standing down as ByteDance CEO is a master class in stepping away
Mr. Yiming stepping down as CEO is healthy because it signals that ByteDance does not want to succumb to the success trap. In fast-changing technology industries, disruption can happen at any time,...
Published 21 May 2021
Article
How luxury watchmakers are changing the cogs of distribution
The pandemic has drastically accelerated changes in distribution, greatly affecting the world of haute horology which is consequently seeing the hands of time tick towards greater customer centrici...
Published 29 April 2021
To handle today’s competing demands to be stable yet nimble, follow this roadmap
Video
To handle today’s competing demands to be stable yet nimble, follow this roadmap
Strategic planning has been “so praised yet so bashed”, says Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation Stéphane J.G. Girod. So, how do you identify the role it should play to increase you...
Published 23 April 2021
Article
Three steps to execute an augmented retail strategy in the luxury goods industry
Distribution changes are calling for luxury brands to become more comfortable with digital. However, physical distribution remains relevant, so the focus should be on connecting customers’ online a...
Published 21 April 2021
Article
How organizations can design for agility and embrace uncertainty
Before the pandemic, global cosmetics giant Clarins Group was making headway in its digital transformation. A family-owned business founded in France in 1954, with annual sales estimated at US$1.5 ...
Published 12 April 2021
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Article
In a survey conducted in spring 2020, we found that 36 percent of 550 executives from large companies across industries thought agility was an unclear concept, even a buzzword. This is dangerous if...
Published 1 March 2021
Article
Three mindset shifts to make luxury brands more agile
In the luxury space, consumers’ expectations are becoming stronger, as backed by a Norstat study on behalf of London Dynamics, a leader in Augmented Reality (AR) for retail. In it, some 1,000 Briti...
Published 18 February 2021
Article
The Amazon effect: How luxury brands are getting more intimate with customers
Amazon has reshaped customers’ expectations towards all brands, causing wide disruption. But luxury firms have felt the effects in a specific way: they can no longer compete solely through best-in-...
Published 26 January 2021
Article
How luxury brands plan to reconnect with local consumers in post-Covid 2021
Many luxury brands will have been relieved to leave Covid-ravaged 2020 behind. After all, the personal luxury goods sector shrunk for the first time since 2009 with sales back to their 2014 levels....
Published 13 January 2021
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Article
From building intimacy via technology to taking an interest in the customer’s hobbies and values, brands have responded to a sudden shift in consumer habits in 2020. How should they build on these ...
Published 27 December 2020
Article
Luxury brands are exiting 2020 with a wealth of Covid lessons learned
The market for personal goods and experiential luxury will have contracted by EUR1tn come the end of this month, Bain estimates. In this context, for which there was “no lookbook”, flexibility and ...
Published 16 December 2020
Article
Discover what inspires today’s luxury entrepreneurs
The entrepreneurial process is at the heart of growth and innovation in Western democracies. As the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter established, when dominant, large players are unchallenged b...
Published 25 September 2020
Article
Luxury Venture Group selects its first luxury innovation award start-up winners
The new Swiss incubator for luxury startups, Luxury Venture Group, has just awarded its first Luxury Innovation Award to competitors across four categories, lending us great insight into where luxu...
Published 30 August 2020
Article
How luxury brands can emerge stronger from the coronavirus crisis
By posting dire quarterly results one after the other, luxury brands show the extent of the unfolding economic crisis. Here are seven new ways that independent luxury brands think will help them we...
Published 31 July 2020
“The Emperor’s New Clothes”, COVID-19 and leadership
Video
“The Emperor’s New Clothes”, COVID-19 and leadership
A tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: What COVID-19 teaches us about leadership.
Published 30 April 2020
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Article
Responsible leadership from the private sector is needed more than ever.
Published 16 April 2020
Article
How luxury brands can beat counterfeiters
For years, the luxury industry has waged a battle against counterfeiters. These efforts are not paying off. The total trade in fakes is estimated at around $4.5 trillion, and fake luxury merchandis...
Published 24 May 2019
Article
Asian luxury retail is human: Stepping up the talent strategy
Luxury brands in Asia need to prepare for the future of retail distribution. In doing so, they must revisit the role of the physical store and take concrete steps to attract and promote talent.
Published 22 May 2019
Article
Le luxe est-il en train de perdre son leadership ?
Dans un environnement en pleine mutation, la seule façon pour le luxe de conserver son leadership sera de se renouveler et d’innover tout en respectant ses codes historiques. De plus en plus, son l...
Published 14 March 2019
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Article
IMD Prof Dr Girod offers a few steps to follow when thinking about what experiences your luxury brand can offer.
Published 28 February 2019
Article
How to thrive on the experiential luxury trend: Luxury isn’t just about beautiful products any more. For the modern well-off consumer, it’s the experience that counts most
The bottom line is that innovating in the way you provide experiences requires a holistic approach. Some of these innovations are not necessarily ground-breaking. They begin by making things you al...
Published 18 February 2019
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Article
American group Michael Kors enters the luxury world with it’s acquisition of Versace. By acquiring the well-respected Milan-based brand, Michael Kors is not only pursuing its strategy to grow, but ...
Published 12 October 2018
Article
Luxury brands need to reconcile seven dilemmas and chart new territory
With the fast-changing needs and tastes of today's consumers, how would luxury brands keep their products relevant and desirable? In this article, the author sheds light on the dilemmas facing the ...
Published 18 September 2018
Article
Disruption: Six insights to help luxury brands stay desirable in 2018
If brands do not continue to surprise consumers through interesting products or service innovations, start-ups will come to disrupt them. In a digital world where millennials are after new experien...
Published 14 December 2017
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Article
Participants from around the world gathered at an IMD Discovery Event in September 2016 to learn how companies can bridge the capability gaps that prevent them from benefitting fully from an increa...
Published 3 March 2017
Article
Restructure or reconfigure? Designing the reorg that works for you
To cope with ever-changing market conditions, companies often have to reorganize. But leaders tend to get conflicting advice about when and how to do so. Does the company need a new structure, or s...
Published 1 March 2017
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Article
As we discovered in Part 1, globalization may be reaching a tipping point and could be beginning to reverse. Although we live in a semi-globalized world, if the level of globalization we have achie...
Published 2 December 2016
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Article
Globalization is an ongoing process in which the world appears to be converging economically due to the greater interdependence that the movements of capital, goods, services and people across bord...
Published 18 November 2016
Article
Operating models for a multipolar world: Balancing global integration and local responsiveness
Multinationals have always needed an operating model that works – an effective plan for executing their most important activities at the right levels of their organization, whether globally, region...
Published 1 January 2010
Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty