Strategic and operational agility has been a source of competitive advantage throughout history.
The most comprehensive account of how to develop an agile operating model in business is contained in Stephen Bungay’s book, The Art of Action – How Leaders Close the Gaps Between Plans, Actions and Results, which was published in 2011.
It is not based on a catchy idea, the latest buzzword or a trending management fashion. Instead, it does a deep-dive into organisational history and takes a model called Auftragstaktik developed by the Prussian Army in the mid-C19th, follows its refinement into the modern version known as ‘mission command’, and then describes how it can be applied in business.
The Art of Action argued for the first time that agility can be attained through high alignment and high autonomy, and it also lays out a set of tools and methodologies that can be used to do so.
The approach it describes has become known as ‘leading through intent’. We believe that it remains the most robust and reliable set of practices for creating an agile operating model.