MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Responding to Crises With Speed and Agility

  • 5m
  • Bernadine J. Dykes, Kalin D. Kolev, Margaret Hughes-Morgan, Walter J. Ferrier
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2020

When faced with a crisis, companies should dial up two interdependent drivers — speed and agility — to seize opportunities.

Etsy is a U.S.-based e-commerce company best known for connecting individual crafters and artisans directly with consumers. But when CEO Josh Silverman heard in early April that face masks would be a key component of the general public’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, he mobilized sellers — fast. Within days of the release of public health guidelines, Etsy had more than 20,000 sellers with masks ready for purchase. As Silverman put it, “It’s as if we woke up and it was suddenly Cyber Monday, but everyone in the world wanted only one product, and it was a product that basically didn’t exist two weeks before.

This example highlights two interdependent drivers that have permeated the global business environment during the pandemic: speed and agility. Etsy’s booming sales also highlight what’s possible when businesses exploit both qualities simultaneously. While many retailers are struggling, Etsy’s revenue for the second quarter of 2020 is expected to increase by 80%. Academic research and experience show that Etsy’s experience is not unique; organizational speed and agility strongly influence company performance.

About the Author

Bernadine J. Dykes is a certified public accountant and an associate professor of management at the School of Business at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Margaret Hughes-Morgan is an associate professor in strategic management at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Kalin D. Kolev is an assistant professor of strategic management at Marquette University. Walter J. Ferrier is a professor of management at the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Responding to Crises With Speed and Agility