Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World

Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World

Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World

Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World


The rules are changing. The work we do - and where and how we do it - is undergoing a revolution. In order to thrive in the global economy, companies need a whole new business model - one that enables them to embrace new technology, understand the ever-changing workforce, and rethink the way they structure work environments. Corporate Agility provides the blueprint.

The authors are foundersof the Work Design Collaborative, a renowned think tank that helps companies become more productive. In Corporate Agility, they share the results of their ground-breaking five-year research project and the forward-thinking strategies that have grown out of this new knowledge. Readers will discover how to:

• reduce fixed operational costs to remain competitive in the global marketplace

• institutionalize the innovation process to quickly react to a changing marketplace

• confront the coming " talent gap" for creative and knowledge-based workers

Filled with case studies of companies that have learned to stay ahead of the curve and interviews with their top executives, Corporate Agility will help every company ensure that it stays profitable and sustainable for years to come.


Early in 2002, as part of our continuing efforts at the Work Design Collaborative, we began a modest research project we called the Future of Work. As business consultants with backgrounds in academia—Jim at the Harvard Business School, and Charlie at the University of San Francisco—we saw the need for a new set of analytical tools that businesses could use to rationalize their real estate needs, their information technology deployment, and their human resources planning. As a result, we gathered a small group of corporate thought leaders from companies such as Agilent Technologies, Cisco Systems, Intel, PeopleSoft, Capital One, and Herman Miller and we began to survey both labor and management in an attempt to discover how new technologies, the changing workforce, and economic globalization were changing how and where people worked, and what those changes meant to the future of work in the so-called Information Economy.

The initial results confirmed what our experiences as academics, consultants, and corporate managers had long led us to suspect: Although the global economy had undergone a series of rapid, model-shattering changes, most businesses had been unable, or unwilling, to adapt their traditional management styles to new conditions. Prisoners of their outdated business practices and their assumptions about how work gets done, they found themselves losing ground to competitors who had not even been on the map a decade before. They became victims, rather than beneficiaries, of advances in information technology. And at a time when the attraction and retention of qualified, engaged employees had become an even more critical factor in a business’s success or failure, they found themselves out of touch with a workforce that had undergone a dizzying transformation in attitudes, abilities, and ambitions.

Together, these factors resulted in a crippling loss of corporate agility.

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