Structural Agility

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Structural Agility
The relationships between individuals, teams, value streams and portfolios create an agile organisation.

The simple pyramid hierarchy no longer serves us because it acts as a brake on the flow of learnings. This requires a change in the way we think about our organisation. Rather than see it as a pyramid, with executives at the top, graduates and entry level positions at the bottom and everyone else in between; start to think of it has a network. Hundreds of cells, collaborating towards common goals and outcomes, but ultimately independent in action. This is called Mission Command

An agile organisation reduces or eliminates the structural hierarchy and minimises communication overheads through the creation of self-organising, cross-functional teams. Laloux's Teal Organisation, XSCALE's Triple-Loop Learning and Denning's Three Laws[1] come into play across this domain. Principles from Systems Thinking and Goldratt's Theory of Constraints are relevant too.

At the finest level of the organisation the self-organizing teams might be called feature teams, squads[2], scrums, pods or cells. The connection between these teams is the basis of the organisation's structure and an indicator of business-agile fluency. Connections may form a outcome-based hierarchical model, an amorphous network model where connections align dynamically to value streams, or a fractal/tribal model that optimises de-scaling metrics. In each case a system of connections aligns teams to specific business objectives rather than siloing them into business functions.

Mature agile organisations break down divisional walls, for example, by bringing sales & marketing, finance and operations into the relevant Feature Teams. Chapters, guilds or centres of excellence are formed around specific competencies (such as architects, infrastructure or coaches) to share expertise and learnings across teams where and when needed.


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