Agility vs. elasticity in organizations

In times of dynamic change, when everybody is talking about being or becoming agile, it got me thinking about the difference between agility and elasticity:

Agility for many organizations means reacting swiftly to a changing environment. This is jumping from one task to the next, change requirements, being able to change scope and adapt to an ever moving target.

Elastic is stretching out but at the same time holding on to the past, e.g. legacy systems. Just like stretching out an elastic band, the given context limits how far you can stretch out. It got me thinking that the idea of being elastic is often more appropriate for organizations in the digital age, since many bigger corporations have not fully embraced the concept of agility and sometimes cannot ever become a start-up like system. They have to deal with existing legacies and be ambidextrous – both build on their existing systems, while stretching out and exploring new innovative ideas and technologies at the same time. Just like stretching out a rubber band this creates tension. Managing to balance this stretch is the real challenge in digital transformation.

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