Agility - organizational madness or courageous path?
Agility has been promoted for some time as a means of choice to more rapidly adapt projects and organizations to a digital world. Anyone who sees how large, powerful organizations can fall victim to disruptive change understands the panic that this creates. There is the pressure to face up to digitalization and to benefit from the technological possibilities with innovative offerings or an automated operation. At the same time, there is a desire to be as fast and agile as a start-up.
The variety of agile frameworks or methods is large, and the multitude of associated terms now fill many books and seminars. In many cases, however, the word ‘agile’ is simply prefixed to well-known terms. The concept is not new and has proven itself for years in both classical product development (simultaneous engineering) and software development (Scrum). Project teams are also applying these working methods more and more successfully in transformation projects.
However, there are doubts whether this can be implemented sustainably in any organization. The origins of the agile concepts lie in Sociocracy (mid-20th century to the 1970s: Kees Boeke; Gerard Endenburg, engineer) and Holocracy (2015: Brian Robertson, software developer). The approaches to an agile organization have developed the concept further (‘Reinventing Organizations’: Frédéric Laloux).
These concepts read well and seem very coherent. The idea of creating an almost idealistic organization sounds tempting. In principle, an ‘algorithm for humans’ is to be created, the ‘oiled living machine’. In reality, we observe the following resistances and design errors:
The desire for more agility is understandable and also the attempt to bring as many agile elements as possible into the whole organization is justified. After all, the complaint about an ‘encrusted silo thinking’ has been going on for many years. At the end of the day, it is important to weigh up the opportunities and risks in relation to your own company and not to rush after hype and possibly plunge the organization into chaos.