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Maximising Agility and Flexibility in the Organisation

Autor:   •  May 26, 2019  •  Essay  •  1,554 Words (7 Pages)  •  98 Views

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1. Introduction

Business as usual is over. In the past 20 years the world has seen a constant process of innovation, disruption, with a rise of nimble start-ups and organisations that are able to do the job faster and better.

The 21st century is often referred to as a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (Raghuramapatruni, 2017). Examples of the VUCA world are technological innovations, digitalisation, as well as social paradigm shifts. Although VUCA is a buzzword, the old fashioned and mostly hierarchical way of leading people has proven to no longer be adept to the faster moving world (Kotter, 2012). Agile working is a term often used in order to solve the challenges of a VUCA world. As a result, we have seen a movement amongst large and small companies to become more agile and flexible. But what does it mean to be agile? Why is it important? Is it applicable to all type of companies or is it limited to a certain type of organisations? What enablers (organization structure, process, ways of working, culture) are necessary to activate an agile organisation?

It is important to note that while many companies attempted to become agile, most were unsuccessful failing to entirely implement agile processes across their organisation. Going agile means encountering change, challenges and resistance (Moran, 2016). Therefore, it is necessary to take a closer look at what works and what does not work in implementing agility and flexibility in a given organisation.

The aim of this paper is to give insight in the latest literature on organisational agility from both the management/human capital perspective, and the leadership/organisational behaviour perspective in order to 1) understand the required conditions for agile working, and 2) to give advice to organisations that want to implement this in their organisations.

2. Current state of the literature on the maximising agility

2.1 Characteristics of an agile organisation

The agile movement started in the 90s in the IT sector, in specific in the software development branch (Moran, 2016). The early agile theorists promoted open communication, self-organisation and responsibility, and learning (Moran, 2016). Today, agile is often referred to as “the capability of a company to rapidly change or adapt in response to changes in the market” (Leybourn, 2013, p.10). Figure 1 below shows the difference between traditional and agile organisations. The figure depicts the agile organisation as a network of teams, in contrast to a static top-down pyramid structure. Mckinsey and Co. (2018) describe the agile organisation as being both dynamic and stable, designed as a network with teams that emerge and disperse around a particular assignment. Characteristics of the agile organisations are; the ability to learn and adapt


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