Make or Break Business Traits: Hyperawareness, Agility, Fast Execution

The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an initiative between IMD Business School and Cisco, recently released new research called, Workforce Transformation in the Digital Vortex. This cutting-edge research partnership, pairing one of the best global business schools for executive education with a long-time influencer in the tech world, has identified what the most important key to business survival in the next decade will be. Curious?


The most important key to business survival in the next decade will be...Agility


According to the IMD and Cisco research, 4 in 10 incumbent companies are ripe for disruption in the next half-decade. These numbers hold up across numerous industries and verticals. The response of many executives so far to digital disruption has been an increased focus on business process (BPO) and IT transformations. While this has bottom-line validity, it also tends to ignore the people aspect of a business.

Waggl CEO, Michael Papay, was invited to contribute his thoughts around agility and hyperawareness, based on his commitment to helping organizations use technology to create listening cultures. Watch Video as Michael discusses the importance of organizations checking in with employees more frequently than a once-per-year survey.

Michael Papay shared, “There’s a common misunderstanding that leadership needs to have all the answers. But they can’t possibly have all the right answers; it’s not realistic given the pace of change and the precision of expertise required. Communication, however, is the key to success: clearly, frequently, authentically, transparently communicating with employees and colleagues who can provide additional perspective and knowledge.”
“Digital business agility,” as defined by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, “is the capacity of an organization to understand and react to digital threats and opportunities. The most crucial component of this agility is your people and how they respond and adapt to change.”

941 executives were surveyed by Cisco and IMD, with fewer than 10 percent believing their existing teams were ‘excellent’ in the three foundational aspects of agility. Those are:

  • Hyperawareness
  • Informed decision-making
  • Fast execution

Waggl CEO, Michael Papay, was invited to contribute his thoughts around agility and hyperawareness, based on his commitment to helping organizations use technology to create listening cultures.

“Let’s empower the workforce with information in real-time. Let’s trust them to make good decisions because they’re clear about where we’re trying to go and now they’re enabled to help us get there,” stated Papay.

The repercussions of this work

The basic ways in which we work and accomplish tasks have changed drastically in the past two decades. Companies with digital business agility were 3x more likely to classify their financial performance as “above average” for the past five years. In short form, digital disruption turned organizational theory on its head.

It’s not enough anymore to float information upward and have decisions come back down; by the time this process unfolds, a faster-moving company with a better decision-making process is ahead of you. Market share can be lost.

Since the Industrial Revolution, organizational focus has shifted:

  • From the execution era, where the focus was creating scale.
  • To the expertise era, where the focus was providing advanced services.

The third era isn’t yet defined, but digital disruption and the Knowledge Economy are changing almost everything we know about teams, prioritizing tasks, decision-making, and aligning your strategy with your day-to-day execution.

There is still time

If your organization has never thought about these kinds of topics, and instead focused on pre-eminent and pre-existing revenue opportunities, there is still time.

Consider some traditional practices that may now be ineffective, such as:

  • The once-a-year annual review
  • Slow or non-existent feedback processes from managers
  • Classroom-based or off-site training as the only format
  • Hierarchy as the be-all and end-all

This is challenging for many organizations. At Waggl, we help organizations move from slower, once-per-year processes to quick, organic feedback designed to drive effective business decision-making.

This relates to the speed and agility referenced by Cisco and IMD in their research. Financial metrics are no longer what you compete on; you now compete on how agile you are.  The research highlights specifically, the impact of rapidly gathering feedback, “One important characteristic of most of the emerging anonymous feedback mechanisms is that they allow for frequent or even real-time capture of feedback. Platforms such as Waggl...have built-in support for random or periodic (daily, weekly) employee polling and analytics capabilities. These enable HR practitioners and company leaders to distill insights quickly.”

Michael Papay on managing change: “Changes driving the state of the workforce are only accelerating. I can imagine the divide getting wider and wider between companies that are managing change well versus the ones that aren't. The ones that aren't will not be able to attract or retain the best talent.”
Many traditional, ineffective, “that’s-how-we’ve-always-done-things” processes will be pushed aside by innovative methods over the next decade.  Perhaps environmental conditions were out of the Dodo Bird’s control and extinction was inevitable.  But today, organizations have access to information, like the Workforce Transformation in the Digital Vortex, to help navigate change.  

As organizations embrace agility, they can better maneuver through the marketplace, like a swift hummingbird dancing through the flowers.