Technology. Leadership.

Agile teams do not mean an agile organization

Thoughts on how to develop agility in an organization

A large technical enterprise with an army of scrum teams can still be rigidly set in it's ways. Imagine a large ship propelled by tiny, responsive propellers but directed by one large, clunky rudder. The present of agile teams is not a sign of agility at an organization level. A truly agile organization looks, feels, smells and moves differently than a pseudo-agile org.

One way to measure the agility of a large organization is it's ability to try out a new idea quickly. New ideas typically come with the baggage of budget allocation, need for opening new channels of interaction between teams, hierarchy disruptions, risk of failure and the consequent internal 'bad press'. And yet, in the new world of work, resilient organizations capable of experimenting with high-risk + high return ideas race ahead.

The best sign of an organization being agile is an Earnest Leadership. Earnest leaders in agile organizations have an eye for ideas. They will typically have a different reaction to the 'why don't we' questions that challenge the status quo. This needs both leadership foresight as well as managerial skills such as cost estimation, impact assessment and risk evaluation.

  • Leadership appetite for risk.
  • Freedom to participate.
  • Systems that support the ability to measure success or failure.
  • Protect existing systems and processes from disruption until the new idea is proven and scale fast once the idea is proven.