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Designing the flexible organization


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Can we scale up agile principles to the organizational level? In this presentation, I argue that this is difficult. Organizational flexibility requires planning and coordinationa between teams/sub-units, something which is not adressed in the agile approach. I describe the multidimensional model as an overall organizational model that supports flexibility and adaptability.

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Designing the flexible organization

  1. 1. Designing the flexible organization Nicolay Worren Associate Professor School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences Talk given at the HR Week Latvia conference (HRNedēļaLatvija), October 16, 2018
  2. 2. What business leaders say Currently see their firms as agile Yes No Want to be agile Yes No Source: Deloitte survey 2017
  3. 3. The origin of agile is in software development: A faster, more practical approach Icons by Daniel Falk, Annette Spithoven and Sharon Showalter from the Noun Project
  4. 4. It’s like using alpine climbing techniques…in Himalaya 1953 Mount Everest team 1978 Reinhold Messner
  5. 5. Question: Can we «scale up» agile principles to design a flexible organization? Assertion: «Agile» is a source of inspiration – but incomplete
  6. 6. Challenge #1: It has become a fad – and it is unclear what it means 6
  7. 7. Challenge #2: Those who know agile the best – IT people – are starting to have doubts Source: 6POINT6 (2018): An Agile Agenda How CIOs Can Navigate The Post-Agile Era 34% 65% Outcomes for Agile projects Fail Succeed 53% 47% "Agile is discredited" Agree Disagree - Survey among 150 CIOs in the UK and US -
  8. 8. Fast teams and local adaptation does not necessarily lead to organizational level flexibility 8 Our product or service
  9. 9. Proposal #1: Don’t start with an «agile» conviction; start with a diagnosis of your situation
  10. 10. Proposal #2: Decentralization can increase speed and flexibility…but must be balanced with (central) coordination in some areas Delegation of authority to local units • May reduce the time it takes to make a decision when local market is changing Example: IT architect • Handles decisions that affect multiple teams/products • E.g., Common standards, methods, documentation +
  11. 11. Proposal #3: To be flexible, we need an organizational model that can be reconfigured and that is scalable
  12. 12. In a multidimensional organization, the sub-units are small – and can added, removed, and combined Business Consumer Product A Product B Operations CEO Units defined based on product or technology Units defined based on customer segments or regions Units defined based on functional expertise People IT
  13. 13. Blog: Twitter: Book: Questions/comments? Further information