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 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, 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.
Case Studies[edit source]
- New Zealand Post Group - An Agile Executive
- IT Branch, City of Edmonton - Building an Agile Organisation
- The 22000 Persons Start-up
- Modernizing Government - How Agencies Became Awesome Places to Work Using Holacracy & Scrum
- Shipping is NOT Success, Let it Sail
- Evolving Budget Management
- Haier Elevation
- The Buurtzorg Story
- The Age of the Self-Managed Organization
- Holacracy for Humans with Sandy Mamoli
- Tackling Organization Design During Our Agile Transformation with Alex Basa
Further Reading[edit source]
- Communities of Practice and Cross-Silo Communication
- The Mathematics of Agile Communication
- Agile Reorgs - A Survival Guide
- What is Business Agility?
- Structuring Your Business for Agility
- Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy
- Build a network of viable teams for business agility
- From Hierarchy to High Performance with Doug Kirkpatrick
Books & Book Reviews[edit source]
- Beyond Empowerment
- Reinventing Organisations
- The Goal - A Process of Ongoing Improvement
- Directing the Agile Organisation
- Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy
- Freedom Inc - How Corporate Liberation Unleashes Employee Potential and Business Performance
References[edit | edit source]
Join the Business Agility Community[edit | edit source]
If you'd like to continue the conversation with like minded individuals around Structural Agility and Organisation Design, join the Business Agility slack community. Specifically the #organisation-design channel.
Library Steward[edit | edit source]
This section is currently un-stewarded. If you have a passion for this space and would like to take ownership for the guidance and insights within, please contact Evan Leybourn. The stewards of the Business Agility Library are leaders in their field and we quite literally couldn't create such amazing content without their support. These people & organisations are leaders in the community and, through their actions and insights, continue to expand the horizon of business agility for us all.