Study by All for One Steeb AG confirms: Agility has arrived in medium-sized businesses - but not yet firmly established

Agility is a strategic issue for 68 percent of medium-sized companies. The focus is on the optimization of internal processes, increasing competitive pressure and more stringent customer requirements. The manufacturing industry pursues the "agile strategy" most strongly. Culture and leadership are seen as the most important success factors across all industries.

Filderstadt, January 8, 2019 - Agility has become an indispensable part of modern corporate strategy; almost 80 percent of the medium-sized companies surveyed stated this. In cooperation with All for One Steeb AG, Allfoye Managementberatung GmbH and the European Institute for Leadership and Transformation, the IUBH International University of Applied Sciences has conducted a study on agile organizations in medium-sized businesses in 2018. For this purpose, 271 managers in companies of different industries and sizes were surveyed.

More than two thirds of the companies surveyed are already pursuing an agile strategy. For eleven percent of those surveyed, agility is even a dominant aspect of corporate strategy. This means that the topic of agility has emphatically arrived in German SMEs. The study examines in detail the most important fields of action as well as relevant agile factors and also relates these to culture and leadership. As a result, clear needs for action can be derived. In a sector comparison, the manufacturing industry is significantly more agile than the service sector. The retail sector is at the bottom of the list.


In contrast, clear parallels can be seen across industries in the reasons for greater agility: The optimization of internal processes, increasing competitive pressure and higher customer requirements have greatly increased the pressure on medium-sized companies in recent years and require significant changes. In this context, the internal aspect of making employees strong for change and at the same time satisfying them also plays a central role. "Agile leadership is becoming a key factor for employee retention," comments Klaus Engels, Managing Director of ILT GmbH European Institute for Leadership and Transformation.


Not only the large companies, but also more than half of the SMEs surveyed see an acute need for action on the topic of agility: almost 58 percent of those surveyed see agile corporate culture and leadership as the most relevant topic area for securing competition in their company. For more than half of those surveyed, customer focus plays an important or even very important role. In contrast, agile tools and methods show the least relevance in the environment of agile organizations.Manufacturing industry is significantly more agileSectoral differences become very clear when looking at the different industries: Almost 74 percent of the companies in the manufacturing industry have embedded agility in their corporate strategy, whereas in trade and services this figure is only 64.7 percent. It is noticeable that in the manufacturing industry the topics of personal responsibility (68 percent) and self-organization (58.5 percent) are significantly higher than these values in the trade sector with 50.9 percent and 31.4 percent respectively.Obstacles to more agility in medium-sized companiesFor a third of the companies surveyed, the obstacle to the implementation of strategic agility projects is the lack of courage to adopt an error culture. While 68 percent of the "agile" companies exemplify continuous development, this figure is only 21 percent among the "agility agnostics". These figures are similar for the topics of feedback culture (52 to 12 percent), learning (66 to 25 percent) and open cooperation (64 to 26 percent). In order to close the gap here, a change in awareness from top management to every single employee is essential. It is essential to create the necessary framework conditions for an open approach to mistakes in order to make medium-sized companies more agile for the future. "Agility means trusting employees, maintaining open communication within the organization and agreeing on a common goal," sums up Dr. Thomas M. Fischer, Managing Director of Allfoye Managementberatung GmbH.


All for One Steeb AG is a leading IT and consulting company and the No. 1 in the German-speaking SAP market. 1,500 employees help medium-sized companies to increase their competitiveness in a digital world. The service portfolio ranges from management consulting and process consulting in specialist areas to complete IT services for SAP and Microsoft as well as managed cloud services.Allfoye management consulting in briefAllfoye Managementberatung GmbH was founded in April 2017 as the management consultancy of the All for One Steeb Group. It supports companies in strategy and transformation projects. The main focus of the consultancy is on digital roadmap and strategy development, business model development, agile organization and change of leadership and corporate culture. Allfoye also brings together medium-sized companies and start-ups with the aim of mutual learning and the mediation of concrete cooperation.

The European Institute for Leadership and Transformation (ILT) is one of the leading institutes for executive coaching and training and a specialized network organization in Germany and Europe. The ILT supports companies and executives in meeting the challenges of digital transformation. These arise from a changing society, new customer requirements, new competitors, high market dynamics and technological opportunities. These influences make management tasks at all levels more demanding and complex, resulting in increased time and performance pressure. In addition, digitization requires new thinking structures and transformation competence. In addition to the operative business, personnel and structural changes must be managed. The ILT networks management personalities with each other and combines exchange and learning in different ways. The focus of its activities is "state-of-the-art" leadership. By closely linking the old economy, new economy and science, the ILT supports companies in their digital transformation.
Link to the study