The Strategic Agility Process

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In 1964, Digital was the first company to successfully launch a mini computer on the market. At its peak in the eighties, Digital was the next-to-largest computer manufacturer in the world, with over 100,000 employees.

In 1977, newcomer Apple introduced the first successful Personal Computer with a monitor and a keyboard: the Apple II. Computer giant IBM followed with its first PC in 1981. And Digital? It kept on developing mini computers, with its own technology, which were becoming less and less popular.

Eventually, Digital was taken over by Compaq in 1998, which later merged into HP.

Source: Strategic agility, by Mark Hulshof, Sjors van Leeuwen and Jesse Meijers 2013

What went wrong

To become a strategically agile organisation, it is important to work on the four building blocks of Strategic Agility. To realize and permanently improve Strategic Agility, your organisation needs to go through a continuous process that consists of four phases:

  • Identifying
  • Analysing
  • Mobilising
  • Operationalising & learning

These phases have been around for a long time. They are not unique, but they are proven. By following the process you will develop the building blocks, resulting in you becoming more strategically agile. Increasing your profitability and resiliency.


The first phase is to identify current changes or changes that will occur in the near future. What social, consumer and technology trends and developments do you observe? Which new markets, competitors and customer groups are emerging? Look globally, nationally and locally, but also inside and outside your industry. What forces are shifting and what disruptive technologies are emerging? In this phase you are continuously looking for signals that may call for anticipation or action.


In this phase you analyse and prioritize the identified changes. What is the nature, speed and impact of the change? How can and should your organisation anticipate or respond? What signals did you pick up first and what do they mean for your products, processes, IT systems, employees and strategic priorities? Incorrect estimations of the possible impact trends and developments may have major consequences.


During this phase you mobilize people, resources and budgets. For this, you can use the Lean start-up method. This method allows you to prototype organisational changes, product innovations, process adjustments, IT applications or new services. The lean start-up method is ideal to develop, test and improve new ideas in practice. At Cisco, for example, managers spend 30 to 40 percent of their time managing cross-functional project teams, so they can successfully complete multiple innovative projects simultaneously.

Implementation & learning

In the fourth and last phase you optimize and reflect. The focus shifts from a rapid time-to-market to a cost-effective time-to-deliver. This means you need to spend less time on iterative development with fast feedback loops and you are no longer striving for improvement and growth, but you can pay much more attention to the organisation, structure, cost efficiency and financial management.

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