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Brain Circuits

Learning the mindset for strategic agility

IbyIMD+ Published 3 March 2022 in Brain Circuits • 2 min read

As a member of the executive team, you think you must make trade-offs constantly. If you want your company to master the competences of strategic agility, it is necessary to maintain an agile framework for your approach to challenges and performance.

To test where your thinking is at, ask yourself: what are the key strategic trade-offs for my business? Take your time – think about as many elements involved as you can imagine. Be honest with yourself about the answers as you think about these trade-offs.

Trade-off 1: Protecting your core business or engaging in experimentation and creating new business opportunities.

Trade-off 2: Fluid, experimental planning, or disciplined planning and resource allocation processes.

Trade-off 3: Streamlining your portfolio so it is clear and manageable, or a diverse portfolio representing many different geographies and customer segments.

Trade-off 4: Managing your career and the politics of the management team in a way that you feel enhances your advancement or encouraging deviant thinking that generates new ideas.

Trade-off 5: Keeping resources and capabilities internal for better management and control or outsourcing and forming networks of external resources and partnerships.

Was it difficult to choose between these? It should be, because this was a bit of a trick problem. The answer to each of these choices is both.

The way you think about strategic agility matters. An “either/or” mindset when it comes to trade-offs will hinder your ability to be agile. The essence of agility is being flexible when uncertainty strikes. If you choose between either/or, you are no longer flexible. The key to this is being able to reconcile the competing demands in each of these scenarios.

To go deeper into how to do this, read part 2.

Further reading: 

Resetting Management: Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty by Stéphane J.G. Girod


Stéphane J.G Girod

Stéphane J. G. Girod

Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation

Stéphane J.G. Girod is Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation at IMD. His research, teaching and consulting interests center around agility at the strategy, organizational and leadership levels in response to disruption. At IMD, he is also Program Director of Reinventing Luxury Lab and Program Co-Director of Leading Digital Execution.


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