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Prof. Yeasha Sivan and Prof. Michael Zhang, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Interview Was Selected as One of the Business School Top 10 Articles

An Interview with Prof. Michael Zhang and Prof. Yesha Sivan on Agility was selected by China Business Knowledge at the Chinese Univesity of Hong Kong (CUHK) as one of 2018 Top-10 most popular articles.

The new business environment and the pace of penetration of the new digital technologies into every aspect of modern organizations require companies to adopt a different attitude to strategy. Speed and agility have become the new values that have to be implemented by organizations worldwide, and China with its vibrant economy is not an exception. The agile strategy requires Chinese companies to stop for a moment and reflect on how their mindsets should be changed. People in China, however, tend to move too fast and do not have time to stop and reflect.

The modern topic of Agility and how it is reflected in China’s business environment were the main topics of an interview with Prof. Michael Zhang (Associate Dean Innovation and Impact) and Prof. Yesha Sivan (Visiting Professor Digital, Innovation and Venture), both from the Department of Decision Sciences and Managerial Economics at the CHUK Business School.

The interview, titled “Welcome to Agilification”, was selected as one of 2018 Top 10 popular articles published by China Business Knowledge @CHUK.

Prof. Sivan believes that being agile is the key-to-success for modern companies today. “Gone are the days that an organization could plan for a five-year, or even three-year strategic plan in today’s chaotic, dynamic and disruptive business environment. Agility is the new capability to develop a transient competitive advantage with shorter planning and execution cycles,” says Prof. Sivan who is also the founder and CEO of i8 Ventures.

According to Prof. Michael Zhang, the Eastern world will have a slight edge over the Western world. “With the underlying philosophy of yin and yang, the East often values high-level epiphanies. The West, on the other hand, often depend on scientific discoveries to guide their decisions”. Prof. Zhang also said that “In regard to agile strategy, once the companies from the East understand the philosophy behind agile development, they will be able to execute it effectively. However, it’d take longer for Western firms which are more skeptical to accept such strategy, and would need to see concrete returns before adopting it.” Prof. Zhang also thinks that the agile strategy fits particularly well with technology industries, and among startups in China: “Startups in China typically do not follow a well-established structure, and their fast-moving nature will benefit from agility well.”

However, Prof. Zhang explains that as the agile strategy aims to speed up the product development cycle through a slowed down a strategy-development process, this seemingly contradictory insight also becomes the biggest challenge in China, where speed is everything. “Agile strategy requires Chinese companies to stop for a moment and reflect on how their mindsets should be changed. People in China, however, tend to move too fast and do not have time to stop and reflect,” he says. For Chinese companies to take advantage of agility and succeed in such a strategy, Prof. Zhang suggests they need more strategic thinking.

In an article published by Prof. Sivan and Raz Heiferman, Senior Digital Transformation Advisor at i8 ventures, they consider the first step of agilification as being able to accept the mental challenge of building flexible buildings.

“The goal of the modern organization is to rebuild itself all the time,” says Prof. Sivan. This ‘innate mental challenge’, he adds, will likely face many barriers among team members who are used to years of organizational culture supported by fixed systems. “Any attempt to design a building for change – let alone many changes – will not be appreciated, to say the least,” he comments.

Prof. Sivan thinks it is crucial for people to discard this mental objection and to truly understand agility, and to arrive at various different structures, processes, and business models in order to match the needs of the ever-changing market. The goal of the modern organization is to rebuild itself all the time. In terms of digital abilities, Prof. Sivan thinks organizations should consider taking advantages of cloud computing, building a data warehouse, capturing business value from the data they received, as well as various information systems. Non-digital abilities include aspects such as branding, business models and market resources. “Digital abilities should be groomed using specific actions. Actions are specific endeavors that both create business value and build long-term abilities,” he says.

You can download the full article from Cutter Consortium‘s website (registration required).

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