Gartner Business Quarterly

Proven guidance for C-suite action

2021 Q3

New Ways to Organize for
Agility and Speed

Redesign work to meet higher expectations for collaboration and speed

In the run-up to recovery, nearly 90% of board members say they see more pandemic-fueled need for strong cross-functional collaboration. Meanwhile, CEOs most often cite speed and agility to navigate the crisis well. So, don’t neglect reporting lines, collaboration frameworks and important business processes as you plan for the next year.

In this issue of Gartner Business Quarterly, we focus on fresh ways to help you organize for speed and agility.

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    In this issue

    New Ways to Organize for Agility and Speed
    Letter From the Editor

    In the run-up to recovery — on both the health and economic fronts, we hope and expect — nearly 90% of board members say they see more pandemic-fueled need for strong cross-functional collaboration. Meanwhile, CEOs most often cite speed and agility as the trait they admire in companies that have been navigating the crisis well.

    So don’t neglect reporting lines, partnership frameworks and critical business processes as you start planning for next year. The reopening of offices and facilities spotlights the need to rethink where and when employees work; seize this chance to reassess how the institution works too.

    Two common threads appear in best practices well-suited for this moment:

    1. Sharing, and yes, ceding — control, money, data — leads to speed, if it’s done right.

    2. Good change is still more change. New arrangements should account for exhaustion.

    In the short articles inside, you’ll read about companies that reinvented traditional function-to-function relationships, shifted business unit attitudes toward budgets, built cooperative data platforms, reviewed org design and helped small groups balance workloads together.

    You’ll find real-world experience shared by leaders at an international group of organizations — large and midsize, private and public — including TD Bank, Novo Nordisk, Western Health, Land O’ Lakes, Mercado Libre, Mastercard, SMART Technologies and Hilti.

    GBQ advises you on aligning with others and reaching peak effectiveness so your enterprise can achieve its goals, be bold and principled, and bring employees, investors and the public along for the ride.

    Our standing departments keep you up to speed — Cutting Edge, a look at provocative new data, and Briefs, short takes about smarter spending & planning, talent & culture, growth & innovation, and data & technology.

    We welcome your feedback. Please contact me at

    — Judy Pasternak

    A Unified Commercial Team That’s Purpose-Built for Serving Customers
    SMART Technologies dismantled the traditional commercial structure and constructed a different kind of revenue engine: a single group led by the former heads of sales and marketing.

    How to Shift Leaders to a Company-First Mindset
    Business units and corporate departments think of their budgets as set in stone once approved, and their bonus structures often encourage decisions that benefit their own group ahead of the full enterprise. Three institutional changes can alter this dynamic.

    4 Lessons From Land O’Lakes on Building a Digital Ecosystem
    Digital ecosystems are the new frontier of technology-enabled growth. Fueled by shared platforms, they help hundreds of participants exchange products, data and expertise or even reinvent their business models. Yet 85% fail within three to seven years. Land O’Lakes found ways to skirt the pitfalls.

    Dynamic Risk Governance Starts With Shared Data
    Outdated ways of working are all too common when it comes to protecting the organization from dangers spawned by a world that’s moved online. To fight fire with fire, functional leaders must go digital, too; that means they must build opportunities to collaborate.

    How to Empower and Safeguard Tech Work Outside IT
    Risk and reward sit on a razor’s edge as more tech work is done outside of central IT. To minimize the downsides while harnessing the benefits, executive leaders should build digital judgment among fusion team leaders while tying governance to new ways of working.

    Leaders Clear the Path for Speed and Cooperation at the Team Level
    Functional leaders must redesign work to meet higher expectations for collaboration and speed; companies from three continents explain their effective practices.

    HR and Compliance Must Join Hands to Build Day-to-Day Inclusion
    To combat microaggressions, informal systems help employees feel like they can safely open up. But it takes two functions to do this effectively. HR and ethics leaders discuss how they worked together to address a new mandate.

    Disengaged In-House Lawyers Can’t Be Fast, Creative Business Partners
    General counsel must start to treat lawyer engagement like a strategic objective. Otherwise, their lawyers will be driven into survival mode right when the organization most needs swift and innovative guidance.

    Working Across Functions to Design Digital Customer Experiences That Boost Loyalty
    Orchestrators may emerge from marketing, customer experience, product or IT. Wherever they come from, these functional leaders use their spheres of influence to create digital experiences that change customer perceptions and behaviors, increasing brand loyalty.

    The Whiteboard: Big Questions to Ask About Bridging the Bot-Human Divide
    To make the most of their collective intelligence, people must learn to both trust the power of algorithms and understand their limitations. If your organization hasn’t yet considered human-machine relations, you need to get started right away. It’s time to head to the whiteboard to sketch out how to integrate AI into the workforce.

    About Gartner Business Quarterly

    Gartner Business Quarterly provides business executives with insights from best practices research and the real-world experience of practitioners. The journal’s insights especially equip executives to tackle challenges that cut across the C-suite and affect multiple executive teams. Writers, contributors and data analysts are members of Gartner Research & Advisory (R&A) whose teams are led by Senior VP Val Sribar. The Gartner Business Quarterly publication is led by Editor-in-Chief Judy Pasternak with executive sponsorship by Group VP Scott Christofferson.