Monday, October 19th, 2020

Organizational Agility

January 27, 2007 by
Filed under Roots of Leadership Agility

Organization design experts first used the term agile in the early nineties to describe manufacturing firms that adapted quickly to changing customer needs. (See Agile Manufacturing by Kidd, Pathways to Agility by Oleson, Response-Ability: The language, structure, and culture of the agile enterprise, and Transitioning to Agility by Gunneson). By the end of the millennium, the concept of agility had broadened to mean “the ability to anticipate and respond rapidly to changing conditions.” (See “Building agility and resiliency during turbulent change,” Joseph McCann).

In the service sector, agility was also being applied to describe IT projects and to the IT systems needed to support agile organizations. (Agility in Health Care by Goldman and Graham, and Cooperate to Compete: Building agile business relationships by Preiss, Goldman, and Nagel). Books, articles, and blog postings on agile IT are legion.

In 2003 a study of 50 government agencies in 8 countries, conducted with the London School of Economics, concluded that agile agencies not only exist, they significantly outperform other agencies on virtually every important metric, from productivity to employee and customer satisfaction (“The Agile Government: It’s not an oxymoron,” Baker, Durante, and Sanin-Gomez).

For recent work on agility from an organizational design perspective, see Built to Change by Lawler and Worley.

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