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The agile business culture

An article just recently published in USA investigates the connections between corporate specificities and the ability to face market changes

The most efficient and fast business wins against its competitors on the market where speed (perhaps more than efficiency) has become the mantra. This indication comes from multiple business management manuals, almost permeating modern manufacturing culture. Before quality, before proper production activities, before attention to specific aspects such as those tied to social responsibility in entrepreneurial activities, in many environments it is being speedy that distinguishes a good entrepreneur.

The research conducted by Jennifer Heckler and Anne Powell (both from Southern Illinois University) is based on a different presumption. And it is interesting to read for this very reason. “IT and Organizational Agility: A Review of Major Findings” sees the concept of agility as the basic presumption for the success of a business, although interpreting it differently from usual. The authors explain that a particular approach to business management leads to considering agility as

the ability to adapt rapidly to change. This ability is rendered all the more effective by the use of means made available by IT. The more agile businesses are from this perspective, the more successful they are in their reference markets. But this type of business does not precede change: it simply adapts to it albeit with great ability and speed.

Heckler and Powell share the need to tackle global competition by being equipped with rapid and “adaptive” agility. But they also have more to add. “An organisation – they write -, cannot simply fill in a check list and think it is agile”. Recognising and using the fundamental values of business culture, the presence of key characteristic traits of each entrepreneur is, for both researchers from Illinois, the added bonus that allows a business that is simply quick to adapt to change to become a business capable of preventing change.

A business that is truly successful, therefore, is not just one that is capable of adapting with agility to circumstances, but most of all one that – based on its nature, on its history, on the experiences had in the factory – manages to liaise with the market efficiently. Also using IT in a different way. In other words, in addition to check lists, the model and the manufacturing culture true to every business counts.

The article by Heckler and Powell suggests for the reader a non-mechanistic vision of the procedures for adapting to the surrounding environment seen as an element of success of the business itself.

IT and Organizational Agility: A Review of Major Findings

Jennifer Heckler, Anne Powell

Association for Information Systems AIS Electronic Library (AISeL), Spring, 2016