Estimated reading time 2 min

Opportunities created through strategic agility in public sector development assessed in international workshop

The strategic agility for strong societies and economies workshop focused on exploring the applicability of strategic agility and the opportunities it may offer in public sector management and renewal. The workshop gathered together a group of the world’s leading scientists, representatives of OECD, Sitra and INSEAD as well as senior management from the ministries of OECD member states to discuss solutions for the challenges faced by public administration.

Published

The strategic agility for strong societies and economies workshop focused on exploring the applicability of strategic agility and the opportunities it may offer in public sector management and renewal. The workshop gathered together a group of the world’s leading scientists, representatives of OECD, Sitra and INSEAD as well as senior management from the ministries of OECD member states to discuss solutions for the challenges faced by public administration. Sitra, OECD and INSEAD (The Business School for the World) organised the workshop in Paris on 10 November.

In recent times, new concepts have been introduced in the debate on public administration. One such concept is ‘strategic agility’. For example, the 2010 OECD Public Governance Review on Finland states that the public sector should be capable of rapid and effective changes in policies in the rapidly changing global environment and society. This requires strategic agility from the government and public administration, which prescribes foresight in the face of increasingly complex challenges and the ability to respond to these challenges at an appropriate level. These challenges are similar in many other countries.

What can be achieved by strategic agility in the development of public administration?

From the perspective of potential for change, it is crucial to strengthen and develop strategic insight, collective commitment and resource flexibility. Strategic agility manifests itself in, for example, the readiness of the government to anticipate and react to change and in strategic renewal. Collective commitment means common adherence and co-operation amongst the management to reach common goals. Resource flexibility refers to the possibility of reallocating resources quickly and to a sufficient degree when necessary.

The discussion in the workshop was inspired by the publication Fast Strategy, which provides a theoretical underpinning for strategic agility, co-written by Professor Yves L. Doz and Sitra’s President Mikko Kosonen.

The workshop also discussed the challenges of public sector development and the actions that are required. In addition, evidence-based decision-making, economic growth areas and the opportunities and role of renewed leadership in ensuring the public sector’s potential to change were discussed.

The opportunities offered by strategic agility in public sector innovation attracted a great deal of positive interest during the workshop. Finland was raised as a very positive example of innovative pioneering in public administration. The concept of strategic agility was considered a highly promising tool for securing the public sector’s impact. Some academic critique was also presented, particularly in connection with differences between private and public sector management. “How much risk can governments take?” was one of the critical questions voiced during the workshop.

The workshop agenda (PDF file)

Strategic Agility in Public Management – New Perspectives from INSEAD-Sitra Cooperation (PDF file)
Timo Hämäläinen, Mikko Kosonen, Yves L. Doz
Faculty & Research, Working Paper, INSEAD – The Business School for the World, 2011/110/ST

Published