Future Organization Report 2020: Resisting crises with agility


Companies are becoming more agile, but customer orientation still needs some work.

Agility pays off, especially during the COVID-19-pandemic. Among very agile companies, 21.1 percent of those surveyed feel that their company environment is easier to predict. Employees in agile companies felt better prepared for the crisis and were better able to manage the switch to digital collaboration. These are the results of this year’s Future Organization Report from Campana & Schott and the Institute of Information Management at Universität St. Gallen. The study investigates agility in those companies that by their own account already use agile work methods.  

Compared to last year, the perceived agility of companies increased from an average value of 4.7 last year to 5.5 (on a scale of 1 to 7). Companies no longer view enterprise agility as a trend but as the basis for future growth. 40.9 percent of those surveyed believe that their company is very agile, compared to 27.5 percent in the previous year.  

Agile mindset already well established

Increased agility is expressed with a pronounced agile mindset, which is already established among 71.5 percent of participants. Most of those surveyed considered themselves to be agile. They are not afraid to take on new tasks where not all requirements are known from the start (85%). They are comfortable with changes, new ideas and new technologies (83%) and they feel that they have the flexibility to deal with rapid changes (74%). Also, 86.3 percent of those surveyed report that their work has purpose. 84.2 percent had no difficulty organizing themselves, 76.2 percent prioritize their tasks by benefit and 70.6 percent feel empowered. 

The agile mindset also forms an important basis for moving from the mere introduction of agile methods and tools (“doing agile”) to a consistently agile corporate culture and establishing the principles in the minds of the employees (“being agile”).   

Customer ortientation - still room for improvement

A strong customer orientation is a key factor of agility. Approximately 70 percent of those surveyed said that their company's main reason for existence is to help the customer. Two-thirds of companies regularly and systematically measure customer satisfaction. But there is still potential for improvement, as only about half of those surveyed report a high customer orienation at their companies. 

While a lot of data about customers is already available and regularly collected, companies do not make enough use of this data. And while they acknowledge the information (Sensing), they rarely convert it into new or adapted products and services (Responding). But in fact, this feedback process offers a key competitive advantage for companies, when they forward knowledge about customers and their requirements with defined processes or underlying systems.  

While many companies only orientation on the end user, trend-setters are already looking at entire value creation networks. All of the stakeholders in the network such as business partners, manufacturers or service providers are orchestrated around the end user. This increases the overall effectiveness of the value creation process.