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What is an Agile organization?

An Agile organization is one that has fully embraced the Agile mindset. It is a company that is guided by the four values and 12 principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto. These values and principles are applied in real-world situations, enabling the Agile business to react quickly and adapt easily to a changing environment.

Agile organizations differ greatly from traditional ones. Instead of creating long-term projects with sequential tasks as the Waterfall framework does, Agile teams break large projects into smaller pieces that are easier to manage. What’s more, an Agile organization won’t rely on a heavyweight documentation process — instead, it will note project requirements on short-form cards known as user stories. This practice aims to boost efficiency, saving an Agile business valuable time and money.

An Agile organization will also embrace Agile practices across numerous departments, from software development to IT operations

Characteristics of an Agile organization

According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Agile organizations have five key trademarks. These are:

1: North Star embodied across the organization

Every Agile business will have a shared vision, highlighting how it delivers value to the customer. The number-one priority is the customer, so this will naturally inform the business strategy. If a customer’s needs change, the Agile organization will adapt to suit these needs.

2: Network of empowered teams

As the saying goes, there is no ‘i’ in team — Agile organizations respect this mantra by following a non-hierarchical team structure. There are clear roles and responsibilities, but the flat structure means everyone works together as a team. When leading an Agile organization, managers will not adhere to the old-fashioned style of ‘command and control’  leadership. They will enable their teams to work autonomously, trusting that they have the necessary skills to do a good job. These small, self-organizing teams tend to be happier and more creative, as they have more room to develop their own style.

3: Rapid decision and learning cycles

Agile organizations take an iterative approach to their work process. They divide their workload into short-term iterations and repeat the steps until they reach the desired outcome. This way, clients are brought into the development stage and can offer feedback to improve the product. Decisions are made quickly, with the added security that any mistakes can be rectified in the following iteration. This method allows an Agile business to continuously improve processes and create better-quality deliverables.

4: Dynamic people model that ignites passion

One of the core attributes of Agile is a high level of respect for individuals. People are the most important factor here, which is why an Agile organization will aim to create a supportive workplace culture and community that employees actively want to be a part of. Employees will be encouraged to grow their skill sets and nurture their entrepreneurial talents. 

5: Next-generation enabling technology 

Technology plays a key role in Agile organizations. Agile teams are always willing to learn something new, so they keep an eye on burgeoning technologies and aim to implement state-of-the-art tools into their working practices. These high-tech tools will enable an Agile business to work more efficiently and accelerate their delivery, leading to a happier consumer base.

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