Agility: The boardroom imperative

Agility: The boardroom imperative

Agility: The boardroom imperative 768 514 Tamela

The past five years have given business leaders a clear indication of how interconnected and unpredictable business, society, and economies are. Humanitarian disasters ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to wars in Ukraine and Israel have had an unimaginable effect on geopolitics, trade, economics, energy, and financial markets. These disasters have vastly increased the need to adopt an agile approach to business.

Recent history tells us that companies rarely adopt an agile approach for the long haul; rather, the interest is lost soon after the crisis dissipates. Holding such a narrow view that is designed to ensure short-term operational continuity during a crisis will not suffice.

Three major crises that have sent shockwaves throughout the globe have occurred in recent periods, and these presented opportunities for those companies that can absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and thrive under challenging circumstances. But this agility needs to start at the board level if companies are to reap the benefits of ever-changing economic landscapes. We are all aware of what happened to industry giants such as Nokia, Kodak, and Blockbuster (“NKB”), all of which lacked strategic foresight.

The chart below depicts how agility enhances resilience:


Source: S&P Capital IQ and McKinsey & Company analysis

McKinsey & Company writes, “Resilience is the ability to not only recover quickly from a crisis but to bounce back better — and even thrive. Agile is a way of working that seeks to harness the inevitability of change rather than work against it. As such, organizations that have fostered agile processes are better able to pivot when the situation demands it. Agility lets organizations respond in ways uniquely suited to each crisis, rather than apply one-size-fits-all, inflexible solutions.” Their data shows that resiliency cushions downsides in recessions and accelerates advantages afterward (McKinsey, 2023).

The framework of shared values meant that companies such as NKB were comprised of boards with similar-minded individuals who avoided conflict (“go along to get along”). Being an agile board requires probing questions and constantly asking “what if” to challenge the confirmation bias.


How can we help?

As an agile and resilient adviser, Tamela has helped our clients navigate unpredictable times as we partner with them on an ongoing basis. We can do the same for you.

For more information, please contact Nkululeko Mnganga on +27 83 858 0658 or

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