The True Agile Organization DNA

Ekipa.co – Lately, I see some companies move to true ‘agile enterprises. I’ve always been a firm believer in empowerment and self-management. To become a truly agile organization (as opposed to an organization that does some agile in some projects), we need those two ingredients. An enterprise needs to reinvent its agile organization DNA. 

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The Characteristics of Agile Organization DNA

To reinvent the DNA, almost everything needs to ‘go’:

Leadership: leaders need to ‘let go’. They need to let go of their power and their idea of status. They need to move their power to the people in their teams. And sometimes they even need to make themself redundant, finding a new role or leaving. 

Culture: everyone needs to start thinking differently. People need to ‘own’ their work. They need to feel part of the team they work in and its mission. We need to let go of our focus on our own priorities and wallet. 

Structure: we need to let go of the hierarchical organogram. Silos and functional departments are gone. And then we need to reinvent the new structure. In true agile organizations, this reinventing happens by the team with leaders as facilitators. Not top-down. People reshape their teams, what the teams work on, and their own roles in it. 

Performance systems: traditional KPIs need to go. KPIs focus people on ‘me’. We want ‘us’. Work happens in teams, so performance, outcomes, and impact have to be measured at the team level. And rewards have to be linked to that. 

Goal setting: top-down goal setting has to go. Leaders can give direction. But the teams decide what to do and how to get there. Leaders can facilitate this discussion. Teams that set their own goals, ‘own’ them. 

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Truly agile organizations also understand that the team must do all the reinventing. If we lay out the structure, culture, and performance systems top-down, we haven’t accomplished all that Agile encompasses. I have seen very few companies that understand this. And it requires audacity. It requires top management that dares to let go of all of the above. And then trust that their people will reshape the DNA. 

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