October 2012

Agility: The New "Secret Ingredient" of High Performing Teams

By:  Nick Horney, Ph.D.

Principal, Agility Consulting

According to 2012 a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) research report, in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment, teams must be more than high-performing to win in the marketplace, they also need to be AGILE. This is solid evidence for Agility as the new "Secret Ingredient" of High Performing Teams.



The increasing speed, magnitude and volume of turbulence businesses face demands new ways of focusing on team effectiveness.  Agility Consulting has been advocating team agility for the past decade, based on data collected through our work with a broad portfolio of industry-sector clients. We have also regularly highlighted the strong impact of leadership and organizational agility on organizational performance.


Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has reported in recently published research in 2012 that adaptive (agile) companies significantly outperform less adaptive companies during turbulence. While the eye of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) storm may have passed, the world continues to be persistently characterized by VUCA. Therefore, the BCG research emphasizes the need for organizations to be agile to thrive. The first part of the research study used growth in market capitalization, spanning a 5-year period, as the key indicator of performance. Using BCG's Adaptive Advantage Index (AAI), researchers assessed 2,127 US public companies. The 0.91 correlation BCG found between the AAI and market cap growth is very impressive!  Companies scoring 80% - 90% on the AAI showed an average 20% growth in market cap over the 5-year period. In contrast, companies scoring 0 on the AAI saw an average drop in market cap of around 15%. 


High Performing AGILE Teams are most successful

The second part of the BCG study looked specifically at adaptive behaviors in top teams. Researchers used a small sample of 9 successful companies, again dividing these into top-tier, middle-tier and bottom-tier performers. Financial performance was based on averaging net income over a five year period. Companies were a mix of global and single-country organizations and included companies from developed and developing markets.


The study involved an extensive deep dive into aspects of the senior leadership teams of these companies, all intact for the 5-year review period. In all, a representative sample of 93 executives was interviewed and surveyed. As in the first part of the study, agility was strongly associated with performance. The most adaptive senior teams came from the top-tier performers and thus were leading the most successful agile companies. >> READ MORE


By Tom O'Shea, CMC

Principal, Agility Consulting


The following is based on an interview with Land O'Frost CEO David Van Eekeren and SVP Steve Sakats. Land O'Frost is a privately held Chicago based firm founded in 1952 and the third largest maker of branded lunchmeats in the US. They are the fastest growing brand in their fiercely competitive category serving retailers like Wal*Mart and Kroger and led by third generation CEO David Van Eekeren and an engaged senior leadership team that includes Steve Sakats - SVP Human Resources. 


TOM:  Why did Land O'Frost first get involved with Agility Consulting?


DAVID: It was actually back in October of 2008 - which if you remember was a pretty turbulent time.  Our company had been performing fairly well and we knew we wanted to accelerate the growth of our company but the future looked pretty uncertain.  We felt it was a good time to step back and take a fresh look at our company vision and strategies and we felt the framework of the Agile Model and becoming more focused, fast & flexible to face these uncertain times made a lot of sense to us. READ MORE

Agility Consulting Principal Tom O'Shea - Recognized at International Consulting Conference in Orlando 


Nearly 200 consultants from all over the world assembled in Orlando, Florida this past week for the first combined conference of the International Confederation of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) and the Institute of Management Consultants  - USA.  The ICMCI is the global governing body setting professional standards and ethics for Certified Management Consultants.  The conference provided a focus on next practices in strategy, innovation and collaboration with opportunities for diverse learning from consultants coming from across the US and Canada joined by colleagues from countries like Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Taiwan, Netherlands, UK, Paraguay, Brazil, South Africa and Russia to name a few.


Agility Consulting principal Tom O'Shea,  a CMC and former President of the Carolinas IMC Chapter, was recognized at the Conference for guiding the programming of an innovative chapter meeting and workshop designed to engage and leverage the significant expertise of Chapter members for the benefit of NC Families United ... a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of improving the lives of children, youth, and families with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs. As an outcome of the workshop, the NC Families United received a wealth of knowledge from the consultants on how to increase their impact. 

Read & See More from Other About - Agility in a VUCA World!



Nick Horney,  Ph.D., Principal




Tom O'Shea, CMC, Principal




Agility Consulting & Training, LLC


1901 Rosevilla Lane - Greensboro, NC 27455