Escaping the ‘S-Curve’ – Is the ‘Agile’ Organization the Answer?

31 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019

See all articles by Yves L. Doz

Yves L. Doz

INSEAD - Strategy

Maria Guadalupe

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); INSEAD - Economics and Political Sciences; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: April 11, 2019


Once successful, most companies fall victim to strategic rigidity. The more the business model is attuned to the existing environment, the harder it is to reform it when conditions change. In response to this renewal challenge, the “agile organization” has been hailed as a way to keep innovating and adapting, allowing firms to evolve and grow, making the “S-curve” of maturity obsolete and building strong adaptive capabilities to foster continuous renewal. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the strategic role of agility in the life-cycle of a business. We explain what an agile organization is, the limits of its applicability (boundary conditions), the nature of the output and innovation it produces and the required preconditions to make it effective. This allows us to assess its potential to deal with the inflection point in the maturity curve and rekindle growth.

Keywords: Strategic agility, Business model, Hierarchy, Transformation, Agile Organisations, Innovation

Suggested Citation

Doz, Yves L. and Guadalupe, Maria and Guadalupe, Maria, Escaping the ‘S-Curve’ – Is the ‘Agile’ Organization the Answer? (April 11, 2019). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2019/15/STR/EPS, Available at SSRN: or

Yves L. Doz (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Strategy ( email )

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77305 Fontainebleau
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(33) (0)1 60 74 55 60 (Fax)

Maria Guadalupe

INSEAD - Economics and Political Sciences ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
F-77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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