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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Agile Organization

What Is an Agile Organization Framework?

An agile organization framework is a set of strategy and tactics that helps organizations improve many of the shortcomings traditional business models face in the modern world. Agile organizations differ from traditional organizations in how they’re structured, in how they divide responsibilities, and in their application of technology. 

How Is an Agile Organization Structured?

Traditional organizations operate on a hierarchical model. Higher levels of leadership make decisions and give instructions for the next level down to carry out. Employees at the lowest levels exercise limited autonomy, focusing instead on efficiency through quick execution. 

While this management style may have worked well for putting mirrors on each Model T coming down the assembly line, it doesn’t match the nature of modern work nearly as well. A rigid hierarchy requires lower-level employees to pass information up the chain of command and wait for their decision. 

This process is called siloing, and it's characterized by a lack of direct communication and collaboration between teams or departments. Agile organizations combat siloing with fewer levels of leadership and more focus on the connections between teams.

How Does an Agile Organization Divide Responsibilities?

In addition to condensing leadership levels, agile organizations develop more organic teams. For example, while the end goal of a product development team is different from the results a creative team produces, in an agile organization, both might have a dedicated project manager and oversight by senior members of each discipline. This decentralized structure requires a great deal of trust and consistent communication to function properly.  

How Does an Agile Organization Use Technology?

Agile organizations are only possible because of the advances in analytic and communication technologies. With the support of centralized data locations, chat, video conferencing, and more, teams can share and access needed information without having to search through irrelevant information. 

Technology provides the efficiency and accountability agile organizations need to achieve their goal of a connected, supported workplace. Providing accessible data and clear communication helps employees do their best work, while clear reporting helps leadership and senior leadership collaborate, make proactive decisions, and recognize employee efforts.

In summary, an agile organization empowers employees to analyze data, communicate effectively, and make appropriate autonomous decisions without having every step scrutinized and approved by someone with more authority.

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