Why Agility & Innovation is about more than just technology.



Our guest blogger is Patrick Hollingworth who recently gave a very well attended presentation at one of Quay Appointments successful breakfast networking seminars.  In this series of blogs Patrick explores how teams can deal with business in an ever changing world.

The Problem – Disruption

In today’s rapidly changing business world, there are two words that we are hearing spoken of on an ever-increasing basis: agility and innovation. These two words are being touted as the solution to a third word that is also being used with increased regularity: disruption. A commonly heard dialogue goes something like this:

We are in an age of unprecedented disruption. If we want to survive this disruption, we need to become more agile and innovative.”

The general thesis of this statement is correct. Driven by never-beforeseen growth in technology, which in turn is smashing incumbents’ fiercely guarded barriers of entry to mostindustries, every industry on earth is being—or is about to be—disrupted. To go beyond the day-to-day hype of disruption and understand one of the more important drivers of this change, check out the description of Moore’s law on the right. The dangers for every existing organisation today are very real.

For example, in 2011, Babson College, one of the US’s leading private business schools, predicted that by 2021, 40 per cent of existing Fortune 500 companies would no longer exist. Others have made similar alarming predictions. Also in 2011, global strategy and innovation company Innosight noted the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company had decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today. They predicted that at the current churn rate, 75 per cent of companies on the S&P 500 today would be replaced by 2027. Sure, all of these above examples relate to American businesses, but don’t think for a moment that if your organisation is not American it’ll be safe. On a 2014 business trip to Silicon Valley, David Thodey, former CEO of Australian communications giant Telstra spoke of industry insiders telling him bluntly that ‘his business model was dead’. The threat is the same the world over .

disruption [dis-ruhp-shuh n]


  1. forcible separation or division into parts

a disrupted condition a radical change in an industry or business strategy, especially involving the introduction of a new product or service that creates a new market.

The Solution – Agility & Innovation 

It’s great to see increased levels of awareness about how things are changing at speeds and in ways that we have never before seen, and the beginning of conversations about how we can respond to these changes. But we need to be very mindful that we run the risk of complacency by using the language of agility and innovation as a solution, without truly understanding what agility and innovation actually look like in practice.

In other words, simply talking about agility and innovation as a counter to the threat of disruption isn’t enough.

In addition, we also run the risk of seeing both the problem and the solution through only one lens; that is, through the lens of technology. Whilst technology is undoubtedly the main driver of the change (along with people and places; see the circle on the right), technology alonewill not be the solution. Whilst technological improvements such as cloud computing will save our organisations a lot of money and enable us to operate lighter and faster with more agility and capacity for innovation, the deployment and utilisation of this technology will only be successful if the organisation itself can be supportive of the deployment. To create an agile and innovative organisation, there needs to be a supporting platform from which the technology can operate and in turn drive agility and innovation.

noun innovation [in-uh-vey-shuh n]

  1. something new or different introduced
  2. the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods

noun agility[uh-jil-i-tee]
1. the power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness
2. the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual acuity




One Response to Why Agility & Innovation is about more than just technology.

  1. Diane Wednesday 31st May 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    Fantastic in depth information – thank you!

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