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  • Writer's pictureTara Rethore

Tips to Nurture Strategic Agility

We all know that nature has the power to transform the landscape. Often this occurs over millennia. At other times, it happens quickly, without warning.


Business leaders routinely encounter the same phenomena. Forces outside their direct control suddenly upend the status quo or carefully crafted strategies. Or, they miss an internal crack in the foundation that shatters the current approach or conventional thinking.


Strategy is the set of decisions and actions that get you where you want to go – your vision. (Rethore & Langreney, Charting the Course©, p.14.) Strategic agility describes how well you and your team adapt to the myriad shifts, twists, and turns you encounter along your strategy journey. Further, enhanced strategic agility is a critical outcome sought – and achieved – by the executives I advise.


Walking along a beach reminds me of both the challenge of sudden shifts and the opportunity each creates for business. Three articles that offer insight to enhance your strategic agility:


1) Is Familiarity Breeding Complacency? It’s not easy to access new insights from familiar places. This is precisely the situation a mid-sized company CEO asked me to help address. He wanted to catalyze new growth for his healthy company, even while recognizing that it was “doing just fine.” When familiarity breeds complacency, executives inject energy. Find useful questions to ignite progress.


2) Perspective: Lessons from the Beach Like the business context, a beach is constantly changing. Yet each person, business unit, competitor typically experiences the change differently. This difference can offer new insight to advance strategy, solve a problem, or spark innovation. When you want to navigate change or accelerate performance, invite someone new to the conversation. Welcoming varied perspectives allows the view from same beach to reveal different paths forward.


3) The Thing About Kites Those who know me know that I love kites. Of course, they are beautiful in flight. They also provide a visual reminder of what managing strategy looks like. Strategic agility requires that leaders actively monitor conditions, anticipate changes, and seek opportunities to accelerate progress or capitalize on environmental shifts. Kites prompt people to look up and outward, precisely what skilled leaders must do routinely to successfully chart the course and achieve their objectives.


Strategic agility is a critical competence for executives. Whether charged specifically with developing or executing strategy (or both), skilled executives articulately paint credible pictures of what is possible. They invite others to contribute to their thinking, then listen carefully to the answers.


Savvy CEOs inject energy. They routinely prompt others to look beyond the current reality to stimulate game-changing decisions. Importantly, they also guide themselves and their teams to take action and adapt quickly to changing conditions.


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