What is an agile organisation?

What is an agile organisation?

December 13, 2021

An agile organisation is one that can respond quickly to changes in the marketplace and adapt to workplace trends. Agile leaders are aware that organisational change is unavoidable and the old-fashioned view of organisation management, that is organisations as machines, is falling out of favour.

In today’s business environment, agility means being able to respond to consumer or market changes at a moment’s notice – or even being one step ahead to proactively adjust. Organisations that succeed can make decisions quickly, take action and gain a competitive advantage by responding faster to internal and external changes. 


What’s changed?


The paradigm of organisations as machines, that is a company rooted in hierarchy and heavily specialised, is now shifting in the face of the challenges brought by the “digital revolution” which continues to radically transform industries, economies, and societies. 


  • Evolving environment. Expectations for all stakeholders are changing in this volatile market era. Customers, partners, and regulators have demanding needs; investors are seeking growth and competitors and collaborators demand action to accommodate fast-changing priorities.
  • Disruptive Technology. Long-established industries and jobs within are being replaced at a fast pace through digitization as innovation and AI are leading to automation. 
  • Accelerating Digitization. This is the age of big data, and many organisations are overwhelmed which has led to costly mistakes. The increased volume of information requires organisations to rapidly engage in multidirectional communication with both customers, shareholders, and colleagues.
  • The new war for talent. Agility is also desired skill sought by many organisations. The need for ‘learning workers’, those able to embrace the ambiguity of today’s business environment, is high. Equally, the necessity to retain talent is higher than ever as the fallout from Covid-19 has seen job postings reach new heights.  


A new paradigm

Businesses face a dramatically changed operating environment from the previous century, so how will they be able to align dynamism with stability? 

Although a paradox, agile organisations can master both. To achieve this, they design stable foundations that evolve slowly, and these then enable the growth of dynamic capabilities that can react and respond to new challenges, as well as opportunities. This allows agile organisations to mobilise quickly, keeping them nimble but also empowering their own agile teams to act. In essence, organisations are no longer machines, but living organisms.


And the research is painting a picture of success, with performance improvements noticed across the board. Recent studies have shown that agile organisations have a 70% chance of being in the top quartile of organisational health while also achieving higher revenue growth and importantly lower costs.  

While still not widespread, the agility buzz is spreading and management teams are scrambling fast to learn how to unlock the power of becoming a truly agile organisation. Here at Netherside, we support business owners in unlocking this potential and achieving value growth. To find out how we can support you on this journey, please contact us.

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