Agility in Strategic Communication

Research Background and Purpose

This paper presents the results of a multi-method study that looked at the problems and consequences of the idea of agility in strategic communication. Despite its widespread use in business, there is little study on agility in strategic communication. Corporations are currently confronted with a more complicated environment, fierce global competitiveness, and a faster rate of innovation in the marketplace (Wouter et al., 2018). They must contemplate considerable changes in strategy, organization, product development, and service delivery as a result of the digital transformation. This necessitates a high level of flexibility throughout an organization’s whole range of activities. To this purpose, an increasing number of businesses are implementing new types of labor division and cooperation.

As a result, the purpose of this study is to address this research gap. A four-step research approach was used to connect the existing discussion about agility in other disciplines to the subject of strategic communication (Dühring & Zerfass, 2021). First, a comprehensive and multidisciplinary literature study in general management, organizational theory, production economics, supply chain management, and information and software technology gained complete knowledge of agility and its most significant characteristics. Second, different conceptual frameworks on agility were examined, and key features of communication management were synthesized. Third, in-depth interviews with chief communication officers and senior communication managers from 38 multinational businesses in Germany were undertaken in order to examine and understand the influence of the idea of agility on corporate communications today. Finally, they synthesized the theoretical, conceptual, and empirical findings to offer a complete picture of the function of corporate communications in agile companies.

Findings or Results

With a few exceptions, all respondents found agility and its components to be extremely important. Although many businesses reject the word because of specific undesirable implications, everyone is familiar with its fundamental features. Many businesses have either begun or are in the process of executing a corporate-wide cultural-change program that prioritizes agility suppliers, including flat hierarchies, lateral structures, and employee support and empowerment. Twenty of the 38 interviewees said agility was a key component of their most recent business change initiative (Dühring & Zerfass, 2021). These strategies are often managed by corporate communications and human resources departments. On the other hand, internal variables have a role in facilitating or preventing the change to agility. The role of top management was the most crucial to the organizations in the study sample. Only if the executive board believes in the benefits of agile structures will it change the business strategy and organizational structure.

The scale of the company was also a deciding factor for the implementation. Smaller businesses find it simpler to embrace agile working practices. Simultaneously, many big businesses are rethinking their present organizational structures and procedures. In all the interviews, people management became an essential factor. These highlighted one facet of agility that had been largely overlooked in the literature and lacking from agility models: the significance of people, managers, and employees. Integration of software and platforms, which will be done with human resources management, is an impending problem noted by a few respondents (Dühring & Zerfass, 2021). As a result, agile initiatives may be better integrated into broader human relations structures and procedures. This research has also shown that agility is not appropriate for everyone or in every circumstance. Many substantial and very conventional firms were included in the survey, and they will almost certainly never be genuinely agile.

Theoretical Contribution

The triple role of communication departments in agile organizations

This article complements the basic theory by highlighting the organization’s basic needs and creating a universal scheme for implementing the system. First of all, the communication process is highlighted. Corporate communications are responsible for informing internal and external stakeholders about significant changes in strategy and organizational architecture. It is critical to explain the need, provide roadmaps, project a favorable image, and generate support. The implementation process itself follows this (Dühring & Zerfass, 2021). Communication departments have a unique role to play in fostering overall organizational agility by enabling other company members. They can provide advice on adopting agile structures, procedures, and technologies to senior management, business units, and other departments. According to research findings, communication departments frequently serve as testing grounds for agile work, being among the first to check it out. Then there is a transformation process of the organization, which requires certain qualities from employees and managers.

Managerial Implications

It is necessary to create such conditions that the tools and processes do not limit the team but work as efficiently as possible. Everyone can decide for themselves which tools and processes are suitable for a particular situation. In the work process, everyone communicates with each other and the customer personally and directly, bypassing bureaucratic procedures and regulations. If you cannot do without online communication, then video chats and interactive whiteboards are preferred, rather than working mail and messengers. Changes can and should be made at each stage — or iteration-so as not to postpone them to the end, when deadlines and resources are already running out. For the sake of this, it is quite possible to sacrifice something from the plan if the main tasks are solved.

Agile decomposition means adapting this to your team, namely, abandoning meaningless processes and configuring those that need to be adapted to your needs. In distributed teams, the Agile decomposition boils down to eliminating the sense of distribution. It would be best to teach each team member the additional responsibility for communication necessary when working with remote team members and emphasize the importance of openness and accessibility. Everyone in the team should strive to ensure that Agile works in your conditions, and management, including top management, should support the necessary tools and processes.


Dühring, L., & Zerfass, A. (2021). The triple role of communications in agile organizations. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 15(2), 93-112.

Wouter, A., Karin, A., Aaron, D., Lackey, G., Lurie, M., Murarka, M., & Handscomb, C. (2018). The five trademarks of agile organizations. McKinsey and Company.

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