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What Is An Agile Organisation?

What Is An Agile Organisation?

An agile organisation is an organisation that’s able to adjust its structure, strategy or any other process to adapt to the current changes in the marketplace. The sole focus of an organisation’s agility is to satisfy their customer’s needs by ensuring there’s a continuous delivery of value in either products or services.

The current business environment is quite unpredictable, and it requires organisations to adopt agility whenever the need arises. One of the main reasons why organisations should adopt agility in every aspect of their operations is to ensure they don’t become obsolete and uncompetitive, and ultimately dead.

Differences between traditional and agile organisations

One major difference between traditional and agile organisations is the mode of operation and structure. There’s a static structure in traditional organisations, which is characterised by a static and siloed hierarchy. On the other hand, agile organisations have a network of teams characterised by rapid learning, which in turn helps in decision-making.

In traditional organisations, the governance bodies are at the apex and the decision rights follow the hierarchy. In agile organisations, there’s a common purpose among the teams and decisions are made according to the available information. The team providing the important information holds the decision rights.

How to transform into an agile organisation

Transforming into an agile organisation sounds easy, but it can be tough, especially if it is an established organisation. The transformation should be comprehensive and iterative. Comprehensiveness touches on the structures, people, strategy, processes, and technology while being iterative means that everything cannot be planned upfront. The two components (aspire, design and pilot and scale and improve) that characterise the iterative approach require the organisation to test, learn and course correct continuously.

There are different paths to take when pursuing organisation agility, and they all depend on the organisation’s birth. Some organisations are agile from the jump, while for others, it is a journey. When pursuing agility in an organisation, there are three steps that can be followed and these are;

  • The all-in step, where the organisation through a series of waves commits to transform into an agile one.
  • The step-wise, which involves a discreet and a systematic approach to achieve agility.
  • Emergent wise, which involves a bottom-up approach.

Agile-born organisations are mostly found in the technology industry, while in some rare cases, you may find it in other industries. A good example of an agile organisation in the alternate industries is Hilcorp, a North American oil and gas company.

To embrace enterprise agility, there must be some sort of transformation and the transformation varies in approach, scope, and pace. All in all, whatever approach an organisation takes towards agility, there’s a common set of elements that span across the two broad stages of transformation; aspire, design and pilot and scale and improve.

Aspire, design and pilot

For a successful transformation to an agile organisation, it starts with an aspiration, design, and piloting to the new operating model. This can happen in any order, or it can be implemented in parallel. The need to scale and improve involves increasing the number of agile cells (rewiring processes and the organisation systems, moving people to new roles and creating new roles if need be).

For better transformations, the top teams need to build their understanding of how the organisation’s agility will add value to the customer. To achieve this, there are 3 elements that inform each other and occasionally, they overlap. These elements are;

  • Top-team aspiration-the top team needs to be strong and aligned for the transformation to be successful. The top team can visit companies that have already gone through an agile transformation to get an idea or two on how to go about it.
  • Blueprint- an agile organisation’s blueprint is more than an organisation chart; it should have a clear vision and a design on how the new model will work. The new model should also show the imminent changes in terms of processes, people, and technology, among other things. It should give direction for when the organisation starts testing the new design.
  • Agile pilots-most pilots involve different teams in the organisation to test the boarder elements. There must be a defined scope of the agile pilot with a practical end which might include decisions regarding team staffing, workspace, structures and other resources involved.

Scaling and improving

As noted earlier, it is important to know that you can’t always know or plan for everything and every so often there’s bound to be some hiccups. Most agile organisation transformations don’t get to this stage because they fail halfway through the journey. There’s a lot of learning involved in this stage (scaling and improving) and people are encouraged to adjust as they go.

In this iterative approach, there’s continuous refinement based on capability building and constant feedback from the leadership, product owners, agile coaches and scrum masters. It is important to understand that there can only be too many pilots; at some point the organisation will have to leap to the new and agile way of operations and culture. Scaling and improving is not a single day’s event, but rather a series of events.

Benefits of an agile organisation

The agility of an organisation is a considerable determinant on whether an organisation survives the every changing dynamics in the marketplace. Here are some benefits why organisations should adopt organisation agility;

  • Higher revenue- if not for anything else, businesses should adopt organisation agility for increased revenue prospects. According to McKinsey’s study report, successful agility transformations had 20-30% increase in revenue.
  • Increased employee engagement-there’s an increased employee engagement after an organisation goes through an agility transformation; it increases by 20–30 points.
  • Increased feedback and learning opportunities- a core component of an agility transformation in an organisation is that people are continuously learning. There’s also an increased feedback mechanism, which in turn helps the organisation to better their products and services.
  • Increased resilience-change is inevitable during the life of an organisation. Agile organisations tend to be more resilient in times of significant changes. Agile organisations bounce forward rather than bouncing back.


Agile organisations are more luckily to survive during changes compared to traditional organisations. To start off your organisation on the agility journey, you should first look at the capabilities, mindsets, and skills you want to achieve in your workforce. The next step is to know how to get there. If you are still wondering, how to achieve that, enrolling your staff for agilepm courses should a step in the right direction. With the right coaching, your organisation is ready to achieve its full potential in the ever-changing marketplace.

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