My note on article of the same title from knowledge@wharton (2017).
- Agile management is fast and flexible and could provide high management with higher visibility.
- Shall put the clients first and gets them involved in product development.
- Adopting agile management would require major change in company culture and structure.
- It’s continual tweaks to process and outcomes necessitate close cooperation among team members.
- Some agile companies are asking home-based workers to return to the office in order to facilitate closer collaboration.
- Agile management would likely to work better in software and IT related fields.
Origin of Agile Management
Agile management originated in software development but has been spreading to other fields. The agile approach enables teams to adapt continually and to respond swiftly to new information. People collaborate in transparent small teams. To avoid launching products or services that the customers don’t want, agile teams include the client in early stages of development.
Agile management means shifting the emphasis on shareholder value to the client. Teams work iteratively, in short cycles. Agile management values taking risks, trial and error, and learning from mistakes.
Traditional planning-based approaches make assumptions about the future which usually don’t hold up while agile management accepts uncertainty. Failures surface quickly, allowing teams to change direction and react quickly to the changing scenarios.
Agile management success
Few researchers have examined agile management’s success in larger organizations, but one large international study by Pedro Serrador and Jeffrey K. Pinto found that agile management improved the chances of project success in terms of efficiency and stakeholder satisfaction.
Agile management is also found to work best in software- and IT-intensive fields such as high technology, health care and professional services.
“Agile might represent the ‘jazz’ of project management: improvisatory, tolerant of risk-taking, comfortable with no conductor (or top-down direction), reactive to what other team members are doing, and even responsive to how the end user (audience) is reacting.”
Agile management requires a rethinking of workplace culture and structure. To encourage creative teamwork and to ease the shift to agile management, IBM, for example, has called its telecommuters back to its redesigned open-plan office.
Some experts believe agile management may spell the end of the gig economy. Whether personal contact is indeed essential for agile management success is unclear, but management professor Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis, a professor of human capital management recommend hiring and training a dedicated workforce at least in core areas.
However, merely putting teams together in one room won’t make them work in a more agile way. Companies must give employees space to try new things, encourage them to create and innovate together, and allow them to fail.