Building the Organization of the future based on Lean & Agile principles

Speed,agility and adaptability:
Many companies today are facing challenges with structural hierarchies and declined productivity caused by bureaucracies. These companies often have an organizational structure with rules and procedures created and documented throughout a long period of time. Currently, in the digital age of the 21-century, newcomers and innovate companies operates with a different organizing model. They take advantage of speed, agility and adaptability. Their organizing models are based on the principles of agile and lean management. In this article, we will examine this new trend of the future.

Introduction to Agile Management:
Agile principles and methods are used in a variety of industry and service organizations. Agile has changed the way of working in software development and is now reaching beyond IT-environment.  The iterative and incremental methodology used in Agile can be traced back to Walter Shewart and W Edwards Deming and to Toyota Production System. As researchers started to examine this way of working, it was first described as the “rugby” approach by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi. Later on, a software company used the principles to develop a new product and as developers in 2001 met to share their ideas they settled for a name of their approach: Agile. For more information about the history of Agile, the Harvard Business Review article written by (Rigby, Sutherland & Takeuchi, 2016) is a good starting point. Read the article by clicking here: The Secret History of Agile Innovation

Agile methodologies are used in a variety of sectors, such as software development, product development and project management. In order to get an introduction of the agile concept, we recommend the following reading list:

  1. The research conducted by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka defined the holistic method used by companies in Japan and United States that achieved speed and flexibility in product development. They observed that these companies used an approach similar in rugby – the ball is passed within the team as it moves up a unit up the field. Read the article by clicking here – The New New Product Development Game.(Takeuchi & Nonaka, published in the Harvard Business Review January 1986 issue)
  2. Ken Schwaber is a software developer and has developed the concept of Scrum Development process together with Jeff Sutherland. Scrum is a framework that breaks work in the development process into cycles, called sprints. This approach is common in the software development process. Read Ken Shwaber’s article by clicking here: SCRUM Development Process (Schwaber, 1996)

There are a variety of books, articles and online resources that describe the values and principles of Agile Management. Throughout the years, different frameworks have developed such as Scaled Agile Framework. More resources on Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) can be found on

Agile as an organizational model:
Organizations in the 21st-century need to adapt to the shift in the digital revolution as new technologies change how people communicate, interact and learn. The workforce of the 21st-century has different values for leadership, organization structures and motivation. Deloitte, a consultancy, presented in a recent study the rules for the organization of the future. Agility will play an important role as people will work in a network of teams with focus on speed and adaptability. Teams will be formed and disbanded quickly and accountability will be more transparent.  Access the article by clicking here:  The Organization of the future: Arriving Now (Bersin, McDowell, Rahneman, Van Durme, Deloitte University Press, 2017)

In today’s competitive business setting, the pressure and pace of change are requiring organizations to take actions. For those organizations realizing the benefits of a new organization model based on speed, flexibility and learning will see gains in increased productivity and win over competitors.

Featured image is By Planbox (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.

Description of the image: In agile project management, iterations are cycles by which teams plan, collaborate and deliver business functionalities, products, etc. This technique is often applied in methodologies like scrum, with or without the help of agile project management tools.

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