On Strategic Agility and Organization Design

Agile has taken project management by storm since the Agile Manifesto’s publishing in 2001. It promised self-managing, cross-functional teams iterating rapidly in response to customer needs. Companies listened as 94% of companies believe agility and collaboration are critical to their organization's success. Yet only 32% of organizations are working to become agile, and only 6% are agile today.

There is a significant gap between theory and execution in implementing strategic agility, as shown by the 90% failure rate for new products. …


On Design Thinking, Foresight and a Framework for Leading Innovation

Paradise Lost and Why We Need Innovation

The Camp Fire in Paradise California was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California to date—burning 6,453 homes and killing 29 people.

Wildfires, flooding, tropical storms, and droughts will become more common because of human-caused climate change. We discovered that burning fossil fuels could power the industrial revolution—pulling billions out of poverty. Now, this innovation is threatening humanity. Innovations have consequences.

As Bill McKibben says in Falter, “We’ve been expanding the board on which humanity plays its game. For the first time since the dawn of humanity many millions of years ago, we’re shrinking the game board.”


Use this five-step process to design a more competitive and innovative strategy

The lifespan of multinational corporations has never been shorter. Half of today’s S&P 500 firms will be replaced over the next 10 years in what will be the most turbulent decade in modern history.

The old model of top-down corporate strategy is broken. It often misaligns organizations, gives shallow, mostly ignored direction and lacks followthrough.

The caricature of senior executives isolating themselves at a strategy retreat, building a vanity deck and expecting it to land when they return feels antiquated. …


On Wickedness, Getting Stranded on a Desert Island, and a Giant Vortex of Trash

Problems, Problems, Problems

Let’s start with a fact. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch measures 1.6 million square kilometres and contains over 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.

This swirling vortex of human waste products is more than three times the size of Spain, weighs more than 79,000 tonnes and injures or kills 100,000 marine animals per year. Is the GPGP a problem? It sure feels like it.

Building a Scale Model Problem

Problems bridge the world that exists and the one we desire. We know our desired end state—pristine oceans and thriving marine life, but this tornado of aquatic trash is what’s here today. The problem is the crossing.


Exploring a vision for socially responsible corporate strategy

During a recent project on The Future of Personalized Healthcare, my team and I worked on an innovation strategy for a consumer genomics company. This company was making unethical decisions that was risking the company's long term sustainability and consumer's well-being and trust — in the pursuit of rapid financial growth. This approach is all too familiar — to sacrifice the future for a profitable present. I believe strategists, or those who set and implement direction for companies, have an ethical responsibility to do better.

I believe the role of the corporate strategist is changing. When other goals besides growth…


Systems thinking, spinning your flywheel, and using visual language to tell compelling stories

Dave Gray in his book Gamestorming outlines what he calls “The Game of Business”. Basically, business is built around goals. Goals which set a tension between some initial point A, and some targeted future state B — the goal.

Business is a set of processes designed to move us from initial Point A to targeted Point B. In between these points is something called the “Challenge Space”.

Inside this Challenge Space is a mess of busy-ness in the form of money, people, infrastructure, and strategies all attempting to find alignment to move jointly towards targeted point B. …


Nassim Nicolas Taleb defines a Black Swan as an event that is high-profile, hard to predict, and beyond the normal realm of expectations.

How unpredictable…

Black swans have a disproportionate effect on historical events because of their unpredictability, and how easily they can be rationalized in hindsight.

I think this is a wonderful concept — which stretched a little farther seems to be present in all throughout our lives. For instance, you happen to see a book in a bookstore which you by chance flip through and in doing so, find the inspiration or thing you spend the rest of your life doing. This totally random and unpredictable event has a disproportionate impact on your life. In hindsight it seems obvious — “well I love…


Historiography is the study of historical writing. It’s the process of historians studying the works of other historians to understand not what happened but how people saw the events as, or soon after they happened.

The big question in historiography is not the details of the event, but how people around the event thought, and to what extent they were influenced by their home nation-states. …


We all negotiate every day. Whether it’s with our spouses about household chores, or at work over subtle power imbalances on projects.

Rather than thinking of negotiation as a one-off activity we occasionally, regrettably engage in. Think of it as an ongoing process of negotiating the chasm between others goals and your own.

The purpose of this article is to normalize the skill of negotiation. To the point that you see it as a welcome, attention worthy part of your every day life. …


A few weeks ago I wrote my best article ever. It didn’t perform well (less than 5% the claps this article on design got).

That article was about the 10 skills every entrepreneur needs to develop to succeed competitively by 2020.

But I believe firmly the entrepreneurial skillset of continuous innovation, leadership, problem-solving, empathy, and human-centric design is one anyone, from any walk of life can benefit from.

Based on that research I’ve designed a tool anyone can use to assess how prepared they are skill-wise for the work marketplace of 2020.

Disclaimer* The research is based off these models…

Andrew James Walls

Design Researcher @ OMERS | MDes | Founder, Boardroom Labs | andrewjwalls.com | All posts are my own and are not approved or endorsed by my employer

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