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What is Agile Strategy?

A brief bit of history

The word strategy derives indirectly from the Greek “strategos” and “strategike episteme” meaning General or General’s knowledge. In 1799, Count Guibert gave the word its current day meaning in the domain of the military, and in 1965, H. Igor Ansoff in his book Corporate Strategy, brought the current meaning to the world of business.

In all cases until recently, strategy was thought of as a set of techniques or heuristics to gain advantage that was mostly defined at the outset, and then followed to its conclusion.

As our society, business, and politics have become more complex, our strategies to gain advantage have had to keep pace. As agility has taken hold across the public and private sectors as a way to gain advantage and reduce risk; Agile Strategy as a discipline has begun to evolve.

What is Strategy?

A successful strategy gives the advantage by creating a coherent relationship between the outcomes we seek, the risks and opportunities presented by the situation, and resources available to us. A strategy is only valuable if it can be implemented, which requires leaders who can help set the direction, manage resources and risks, and lead, inspire, and motivate people.

What is Agile Strategy?

An agile strategy provides a bespoke blueprint for your program to gain a competitive edge and achieve business outcomes.

How agile strategies are different to conventional strategies:

  • Designed in partnership with those closest to the point of customer interaction and value creation, rather than solely by ‘the general’ or CxOs.
  • Evolves faster than traditional strategies due to regular feedback, reflection, and adaptation,
  • Realised through the adoption of an Agile Operating Model such as the AWA strategic playbook.
  • Alignment is created through shared values, common understandings, trust, and support rather than tight control.
  • Balance the need for autonomy and self-organisation with alignment and speed.

Implementing agility through strategy often comes with an organisational structure and process change, incentive and financial systems alignment, as well as staff training for new roles and distributed decision-making.

Here at AWA, we have pioneered The Enterprise Change Pattern (ECP), our proven collaborative strategy to achieve lasting organisational change. Underpinned by a people first, experiments-based approach, the ECP future-proofs an organisation’s ability to rapidly respond to change, innovate, and thrive. Find out more here.

Curious about Agile ways of working? We answer your most frequently asked questions here.

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