Fast AND Agile
At the outbreak of the pandemic, Etsy mobilized 20,000 sales staff and amassed enough masks to meet a spontaneous and universal demand for a product that barely existed a few weeks earlier.
Speed AND agility are two concepts that, at first, seem rather incompatible. Organizational speed and agility are, quite clearly, the two drivers to meet market needs in times of crisis such as when a pandemic is raging. The example set by Etsy, which saw its sales leap by 80% in the second quarter, shows that you can combine the two.
Why do so many companies find this so hard? Speed is a complex organizational ability based on three, inter-connected abilities: speed in recognizing (threats/opportunities), speed in making decisions, and speed in carrying them out. During a crisis, speed has to be combined with agility, an ensemble of dynamic capacities enabling you to quickly turn towards new sectors; vigilance (in the face of change); deciding on a new plan of action and mobilizing the necessary resources.
Their interdependence (for example, paying attention to change AND quickly recognizing the potential of an opportunity/threat) often trips people up.
y Bernadine J. Dykes, Margaret Hughes-Morgan, Kalin D. Kolev, and Walter J. Ferrier, (MIT Sloan Management Review, October 2020).