In Blog No. 02¹ agile organizations and Agile methods were identified as one of the current trend topics and the danger of the „dogmatisation“ of new management methods addressed. In particular senior management runs into danger, some of which is reminiscent of the wild promises made in the 1990s regarding tax-financed forms of investment: the supposedly high tax savings have often concealed the risks of the form of investment actually undertaken (speculative real estate, media funds, etc.) and in the end the promises of returns could not be kept or ultimately even developed into real losses. The view was one-dimensional and limited by an enormous desire for a seemingly gratifying tax refund. The risks could no longer be seen.

As shown in the example of tax-financed investments, it helps to take a closer look at what the trend topic of agility² really means:


In recent years, the topic of agility has gained prominence in particular due to the requirements in IT software development to react more effectively, efficiently and in a more responsive manner to customer requirements. For this purpose, a set of different techniques have been combined, some of them newly created. The „Agile Manifesto“ with an „agile project methodology“ has developed from this. Behind this is a „mindset“ that meets the customer‘s needs flexibly, quickly, and with great flexibility and adaptability at all times. At the same time, a new focus was placed on the people in IT development. Agile project methodology also means significantly more team focus and participation in the development process. Here, too, the euphoria must be curbed: In agile projects we often find examples in which these approaches are undermined by continuing traditional management with statements such as “…in the end I decide…“.

Thus, it quickly becomes clear what is meant by an „agile organization“: In the first step it is about a mental change and a new inner attitude that has nothing at all to do with agile project methods. In a nutshell, an „agile organization“ contains people in network structures, who are continuously learning, who develop products or services in iterative and incremental processes, step by step in close cooperation with the customer/client, and who permanently maintain the internal processes in an effective and efficient state through continuous further development.
„Agile Consultants Prophets“ declare a cure-all for classical project methods and organizations. If you take a closer look behind the scenes, it is easy to discover that it all depends on where „agile“ makes sense and where not. Let‘s take the introduction of standard software for the finance sector as an example. Processes are virtually defined by, for example, statutory standards or other normative regulations. High quality, effectiveness and efficiency are achieved through a high level of experience and classic project methods. Agile methods make little sense here, for example. On the contrary: most of it is known and can be planned (which does not mean that (“agile”) details are not being continuously adjusted to the needs of the „user“).

Let‘s continue the example and ask ourselves: does an agile organization make sense? The answer is yes, certainly for some areas, especially for areas such as the finance organisation, which have always been subject to very flexible ad-hoc inquiries, for example. You can also go through the question of meaningfulness for all other areas of the organization step by step. In the end, you implement a valuable, successful, meaningful so-called agile organization and achieve the most important thing of all: motivated employees, executives and teams who understand what really matters and where agile is appropriate and meaningful and where not.

What is the decisive conclusion to all this? There have been and are organizations that have already demonstrated a high degree of agility by applying classical methods and organizations. Conversely, there are already initial examples of agile topics that show that they were, or are, unsuccessful. One example is the 7-S model from McKinsey. The starting point of this model was the observation that, despite the similarities in structure, strategy and system, companies showed different levels of success. The question therefore arose as to the individual factors of success and failure:


So, if all organizations are now keeping their sails in the wind of agile methods, who will succeed?



¹ See Blog No. 02 The doctrine of dogmatic category management.

² HMC defines „agility“ as topmost category for all other agile topics.