Creating an Agile Organization: Points to Note

Over the years, there has been a lot said about the word Agile and its application, and so, Agile seems to be the latest buzzword for leaders out there now. A five minutes conversation with business leaders will reveal to you that the word Agile is now part of their daily conversation as the word is most likely be used in such communication. On a more explicit ground, the word Agile means different things to different people with respect to different functions. A short journey back into history will divulge to you some facts about the word and its origin.

Origin of the word Agile

The use of Agile started ten years ago when project teams such as software development teams moved from the use of a traditional sequential approach to the waterfall approach. With the use of prototyping, significant complex problems are broken down into modules. The agile approach relies pretty well on small multi-discipline teams that are self-governing.

These teams are responsible for outcomes rather than outputs. In this type of environment, the hierarchy is more significant, and the role of the leader is to create a shared purpose and vision. However, assisting functional units in determining its approach for how to create an Agile organization should not be challenging.

Later on, the problem started to emanate when operationalizing the Agile approach. This actually happened when the fast-paced teams come up against the broader organization’s management operating model. The result of this is slower moving and more risk-averse with conflict looming.
During this time, organization design work risk to lose the plot if care is not taken. The teams coming up and its response to the Agile approach against slow management operating model isn’t encouraging at all. As such, it is not appropriate for all business areas and to be specific, routine operations and core enabler functions.

In all honesty, these areas and functions need to support Agile teams in other areas of the business as their ways of operation need to be more flexible, not rigid. There is a need for them to be agile and deliver to the core business while still maintaining their flexibility to the teams.
No doubt, an Agile organization differs in so many ways as it is an organization that consists of hundreds of thousands of creative minds as teams while collaborating with customers to develop a meaningful solution. Such design is quite different with a different set of design criteria with its challenges.

Don’t forget an Agile organization is an organization that is appropriate in some environments, but particularly, an Agile organization always meets the strategic need.

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