Putting speed and agility at the center of the organization

  • February 4, 2022
  • Video
Operating under unrelenting pressure in high-churn environments, Asian leaders have learned to move fast and be agile. Joydeep Sengupta, senior partner in McKinsey’s Singapore office, delves into how Asian CEOs should look to strengthen these attributes not only during crises, but for the long haul.

In the Asian Century, one of the main characteristics is going to be the amount of disruption and uncertainty coupled with volatility. To win in such an environment, where there is also explosive growth, I think there are four or five capabilities which are truly essential for companies.

Video

The first is building capabilities in digital and data. It goes without saying that this is accelerating and will continue to accelerate in terms of trends and what it’ll take to thrive in the years to come. Second, M&A and scale will become more important, and having M&A capabilities will become critical. Third is speed and agility—in a volatile environment companies need to operate at extraordinary speed, and having speed become an important part of your DNA is going to be critical. Finally, if you think about sustainability and purpose, I think these are not just buzzwords; they’re critical ingredients of what it will take for a company to succeed.

Let me dwell a little bit on one of these capabilities: speed and agility. I think these go to the heart of change that organizations need to make today. You have to break away in terms of structure, from what exists, and hierarchical matrix structures, to something which has a dynamic frontend, a stable backbone, and much greater collaboration and cross-functional teams operating at a different rhythm and pace than the past.

I think you also need to think about how you can create an environment for exceptional talent. If you think about the great attrition the world is going through, how do you create purpose and meaning for your employees? I think that’s going to be an important part of what it will take to succeed.

Finally, if you think about the investments that companies need to make—whether it’s in terms of training or capability building—it’s going to be really important to continually make investments to enrich and upskill the quality of employees in an organization. What we’ve seen from our research is that even a 10 percent increase—if you look at the spending people make in training programs—can have almost 0.7 percent increase in overall revenues. So, it is really worthwhile investing in employees as you think about training and capability.

In sum, what I would say is if you think about all of the elements of what it takes to succeed, one element which really stands out for me is this notion of speed and agility. That’s something we see a lot of companies now paying a lot of attention to.

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