By now you may have already read our eBook “Strategic Initiatives: The Agility Blueprint” (if not, see here) and are convinced of the need for agility within a company. The eBook presented the core of what many studies have found regarding the current state of business and how growth can be achieved in the future. But you don’t have to take our word for it! We offer you here 10 short-listed recent resources that will further detail the who, what, when, why, and how’s of business agility and strategic initiatives.

1. “Making collaboration across functions a reality” – McKinsey Quarterly – 2016

This McKinsey article was built on observations made of 25 companies in a wide range of industries in Europe, Asia, and North America. It details how two companies successfully launched new business approaches, but in very different ways — one company which benefited from a narrow, focused fix, and another that required much broaderbased change. The comparison of the two different companies with different goals and problems is effective in demonstrating how the same principles of change and agility apply to different companies.

2. “Agility: It rhymes with stability” – McKinsey Quarterly – 2015

This piece is essentially a preamble to “Making collaboration across functions a reality”. It offers insights from McKinsey’s work with large global institutions that have become more agile by redesigning themselves for both stability and speed. They find that although much has been written on the topic of agility, most management literature focuses only on speed and flexibility while ignoring the crucial part of stability. This is on par with findings from a study conducted by Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath. As McKinsey’s analogy puts it, companies need to be like a smartphone, with a stable backbone (structure, governance, process) and dynamic apps. There are examples for each part of the backbone and the analogy makes the information easy to grasp and visualize. The article also offers a worksheet to test your company’s agility level.


3. “Why agility pays” – McKinsey Quarterly – 2015

This article is based on long-running research involving surveys of over two million respondents from over 1,000 companies. Having scrutinized all management practices, the findings support the idea of the need for both speed and stability when it comes to company agility and change implementation. There is a great chart that shows how the companies are spread over an index of speed and stability as well as a chart on the 10 management practices that differentiated the most agile from the least.

McKinsey Organizational Agility Chart

4. “Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It” – Harvard Business review – 2015

The Harvard Business Review offers a solid explanation on where strategy execution breaks down and substantiates it with five years worth of surveys on strategy execution with 8,000 managers from 250 companies. The results reveal who we can depend on, the problem with coordination, adaptation, and strategic priorities. It also suggests that a number of common beliefs about implementing strategy are wrong and debunks five of the most common myths.

5. “Strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation” – MIT Sloan Management Review – 2015

The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte seeks to prove that strategy is the key driver in digital transformation. Unsurprisingly, it found that mature digital businesses are focused on integrating digital technologies with the aim of transforming how their businesses work. Less mature digital businesses have a much narrower field of vision and focus on solving issues with individual digital technologies. The full report is free to download.


6. “Enabling Organizational Change through  Strategic Initiatives” – Project Management Institute – 2014

This report provides insights from a Project Management Institute (PMI) study of experienced project managers from around the world. As all the other resources listed here, it points out how success in change initiatives are dependent on company-wide buy-in, executive participation, and communication. There is a startling statistic that an average of $149 million is lost for every $1 billion spent on strategic initiatives because of poor project performance. The report pinpoints positive and negative practices as well as the factors that make an organization effective at change.

7. “Most Change Initiatives Fail — But They Don’t Have To” – Gallup – 2013

Using a case study of a financial service company’s call center throughout this article, we are taken through a crystal-clear example of the reasons change initiatives fail, but also through four steps to redefining and improving execution. Each of the four steps are explained in the context of the call center example and how they approached their changes in order to achieve the desired impact.

8. “The Creativity Era – a new paradigm
for business”
– Arthur D Little – 2013

While this article share the general point of view of other resources in regard to the aspects of success, it puts the whole idea of agility and innovation management into the context of creativity. Skipping right to the customers and the marketplace, it describes how creativity is crucial to the continued success of a company. The idea of creativity in strategy is important because, given the factors that created this “Creativity Era” (expanding competition, new customer mindsets, technology megatrends, and emerging management science), creativity is clearly necessary to innovate a company’s products, services and organization.


9. “Why good strategies fail: Lessons for
the C-suite” – Economist Intelligence Unit – 2013

This report comes from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and is sponsored by the Project Management Institute. It draws from a 2013 survey of 587 senior executives globally (both c-level and senior management) and a series of in-depth interviews with senior executives and academics. What’s interesting about this study is that it places focus on c-level executives, who are, as other reports say, a leading factor in the success of any strategic initiative. The report features some interesting statistics from the study and shares advice on what business leaders should consider in order to improve strategy execution.

10. “Managing change in Organizations: a Practice Guide” – Project Management Institute – 2013

This very detailed, project management-oriented guide takes us through an introduction of definitions involved in change management and its framework. It takes us through managing change at an organizational project management level, at a portfolio level, at a program level, and at a project level. Each level has its own definitions and then offers advice on the formulation, planning, and implementation of change before covering the management of transition and sustaining change.

Bonus: 11. “Organizational Agility” – Project Management Institute – 2012

This report offers an abundance of visuals and infographics that illustrate how highly agile organizations are twice as likely to see increased success with their new initiatives as their non-agile counterparts. These images offer a good overview to agility’s role in a company’s success and makes a large amount of statistics easily palatable.


We have used many of the resources above and their key findings to create our new eBook “Strategic Initiatives: The Agility Blueprint”. You can download it for free here. Enjoy!

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