What changes? The need to be agile

Published on January 30, 2022   11 min
Hi, my name is David Buchanan. I'm Emeritus Professor of organisational behaviour at Cranfield University, School of Management in the UK. In this talk, we'll focus on what changes in an organisation, and look in particular, at the need to be Agile.
Any aspect of an organisation is liable to change, from the size of the reception desk at the front door, to the advanced digital technologies underpinning service provision, and product manufacturer. In this talk, we focus on changes that most organisations are now considering. These concern developing ways of working that allow the organisation to respond quickly, and effectively to a volatile, and unpredictable business environment. Spotify, the digital music podcast, streaming service, has attracted a lot of interest because of the way it's organised to help it succeed in a highly competitive dynamic sector. Unlike the traditional organisation that has a simple flat structure, based on autonomous teams called squads and it has few bureaucratic rules. The Spotify model is a good example of an Agile organisation, we'll look at a couple more examples shortly.
The flexible adaptive organisation responds rapidly to changes in its environment. This is not a new idea, the concepts of rigid mechanistic organisations, and flexible organic organisations date from the 1960s, as does the idea of self-managing autonomous teams. In the 1980s the American academic, and consultant Rosabeth Moss Kanter distinguished between bureaucratic or segmentalist organisations and innovative or integrated organisations. In the noughties terminology changes again, and the adaptable "built to change" organisation became fashionable in contrast with stuffy old fashioned unchanging "built to last" organisations. Today, the pace, and scale of change seem to have increased, and Agile has fast become the new organisational paradigm. This trend is encouraged by the ongoing development of disruptive new technologies, the digitisation, and democratisation of information, and competition for skilled staff.