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The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance
Christopher G. Worley, Thomas D. Williams and Edward E. Lawler III

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Format: Hardcover, 208pp.
ISBN: 9781118821374
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Pub. Date: August 11, 2014

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Since 1980, there have been tremendous changes in the competitive environment in every industry, and every indicator suggests that the pace of change is increasing. Recent research suggests that the expected life of a new American company is about six years. How can organizations beat the odds, survive, and sustain long-term growth and profitability?

In The Agility Factor, Christopher G. Worley, Thomas Williams, and Edward E. Lawler III reveal the key factors that drive sustained profitability based on the practices of companies that have regularly outperformed their competitors. Drawing on research from large companies across a variety of industries, the authors explain that the most successful companies are not the typical organizations lauded by the media, but companies that possess a quiet agility which allows them to internalize the outside forces of variation, selection, and retention, and put these forces to productive use. Agility gives an organization the ability to develop and pursue options that it would not otherwise have. It is a dynamic capability that allows companies to make timely, effective, and sustained responses to environmental change. Agility is more than simply good management and more than a single set of capabilities. It provides a way to perceive environmental threats and opportunities, test possible responses, and implement change quickly over long periods of time.

Agility is a very advanced organizational capability that relies on a system of routines, enlightened management, and sophisticated human resource processes. Filled with illustrative, research-based case studies, The Agility Factor gives leaders the information they need to put in place a strategic framework of agility within their organizations.

For executives, consultants, board members, and all those responsible for the long-term health of organizations, agility creates opportunities to give their companies a performance edge.


“This is a breakthrough book. The authors have linked together long-term financial performance with strategy and organizational capabilities in a unique but very solidly supported way. The idea of organizational agility and the four components of agility provide a sophisticated but very pragmatic and actionable approach. They carefully smash some of the myths and fads of management that have been around for years. Rarely have I seen a book that brings research, theory, and practice together in such an interesting and meaningful way. CEOs and senior managers will need to read this book.”
—David A. Nadler, Nadler Advisory Services; retired Vice Chairman, Marsh & McLennan Companies

“The Agility Factor demonstrates the critical difference between strategy and agility. Strategy is taking confident action based on assumptions about key factors that are nearly impossible for mere mortals to predict. Agility begins with the assumption that, as mere mortals, we cannot often make confident predictions about key factors and therefore must act accordingly. Agility is strategy, without the ego.”
—Ian Ziskin, President, EXec EXcel Group LLC; former CHRO, Northrop Grumman Corporations

“To thrive over the long haul, companies must adapt to market disruptions. No capability delivers value forever. The Agility Factor delivers the next step in the execution of strategy, and is a practical way to change reliably and efficiently and stay ahead of the curve.”
—Eric Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens Corporation

“Agility is the lifeblood of today’s organizational success stories. Leading researchers and guides Worley, Williams, and Lawler aptly illustrate both the need and the journey we all strive to follow. Tomorrow’s winners will heed these lessons.”
—Paul S. Viviano, Chief Executive Officer, UCSD Health System; Associate Vice Chancellor, UCSD Health Sciences

“Worley, Williams, and Lawler have answered the question of how to set up organizations to ‘pivot’, ‘adapt’, and ‘flex’ their way to success. Driven by compelling research, grounded in clear frameworks and presented with practical application, this is a must-read for CEOs and the organization development consultants that advise them.”
—Elaine Mason, former VP, Planning and Education, Viacom/MTV Networks

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About the Authors

Christopher G. Worley is Senior Research Scientist at the University of Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations. He is also professor of management at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Thomas Williams is a Senior Executive Advisor at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) where he consults to large global companies on issues of strategy, organization, and management systems. Edward E. Lawler III is Director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California and Distinguished Professor of Management and Organization in the USC Marshall School of Business.

Table of Contents

1In Search of Sustained Performance
Appendix One
2Organizing for Agility
3Strategizing and Perceiving
4Testing and Implementing
5Transforming to Agility
The Authors

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