Strategic Agility

Tan Sri Datuk Dr Rafiah Salim
Director, NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women
Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
 Strategic agility is the ability to think and act
 Strategic agility is the ability to react quickly
to changes in the external environment, or
marketplace/situations in order to avoid
disruptive and competitive threat.
Strategic Agility
Two major forces
for Strategic Agility:
Speed and Change
 Strategic sensitivity : both the sharpness of
perception and the intensity of awareness and
 Leadership unity : the ability of the top team to make
bold decisions –fast, without being bogged in “winlose” politics at the top.
 Resource movement : the internal capability to
reconfigure business systems and redeploy resources
Key Enabling Capabilities of
Strategic Agility
Resource Mobilisation
Strategic Sensitivity
Clear strategy process
Internal dialogue/buy-in
Dynamic resource
Mobilising people
Modular structure and
Leadership Unity
Mutual benefit and
Working together as a
Adaptive leadership style
Key enablers for Strategic
 Superior information, strong insight and good judgment
 Active and purposeful dialogue with key stakeholders
 The more open, the more breakthrough ideas and
well informed judgments
 People of different sensitivities, areas of expertise,
cultural origins, age, gender and types of intelligence
need to be brought together in a structured purposeful
 Expressing difference or dissent in a corporate
hierarchy is difficult yet essential to strategic sensitivity
Strategic Sensitivity
 Organizational interdependency allows for a shared Strategic
 All top members become deeply dependent on each other. They
become interdependent contributors to an integrated corporate
 Senior executives need to become comfortable with direct
informal dialogue. Taking time to share each other’s personal
values and drivers strengthens the basis for dialogue
 Need for adaptive leadership – work of energizing, empowering
and enabling teams to rapidly deliver value in a continually
changing environment
 In situations of transformation or change, leaders should provide
a foundation for collective work
Leadership Unity
 The ability to rapidly deploy resources in a fastdeveloping strategic situation is critical
 Need to decouple strategic business units from
operating business units
 A need to quickly mobilise people and not be
hindered by bureaucracy
 Need to move individuals out of comfort zones
 Modularise the processes and structure
Resource Mobilisation
 Simplified Internal Processes for speed and efficiency
Removal of 50% redundant Rules and Procedures and
automated processes
 Used Technology for Productivity
Promote electronic documents and Illegalized hard copies
 Consistent Best Practices Across UN Offices
Standardization of rules across the Globe
 Improved HR Recruitment Process
Reduced recruitment from 1 year to 3 months
System is used till today
 Introduced competency model
 Training based on the model to ensure standards
The Results Achieved
 Could not totally empower the manager
 UN over audited over sighted – people are scared to
make mistakes
 Needed longer time to change the culture
 Gender parity – policies and implementation done well,
nevertheless there was an increment but not 50%
 Goal unrealistic, no talent pool to support
 Awareness of the importance of gender diversity
What it took to make things happen:
 Being sensitive and understanding the impact of change
 Collective Commitment and Discipline in:
 Working of a top team
 Courageous leader
 Building organizational infrastructure (people, structure and
processes) that can be reconfigured fast
Thinking strategically, acting
fast and driving change
 Today my Agency under the Ministry of Women
has been given the responsibility to drive the
gender diversity agenda on boards of public listed
 30% women representation on boards and
decision making positions of Malaysian public
listed companies
 Achieve target by 2016
Embarking on the next
Strategic Challenge!
However beautiful the
strategy, you should
occasionally look at
the results.
Sir Winston Churchill
1874-1965, English statesman