Agile organizations - The new normal: Small, autonomous, agile teams
One of the main characteristics of companies that have successfully implemented agile ways of working is that their employees are organized into small, autonomous and agile teams. This is arguably the most crucial factor in enabling a company to adapt quickly to change and promote agility within its organization.
One prime example is the story of Finland’s biggest financial group: OP Financial Group. In April 2020, BCG wrote and published an article commenting on OP’s transformation from a rigid financial institution to a much more agile and flexible organization. One of the biggest changes they made was reorganizing and breaking the organization down into small, autonomous and agile teams to create separate business units for its three core customer segments (Schrey, Ritakallio, Ralasmaa, Länsisalmi and Rytkönen, 2020).
OP has experienced fantastic results as a result of these changes. This new model has enabled them to reduce operating expenses by approximately 100 million euros, and on top of that, the employees love it. In a personnel survey conducted in 2019, 92 percent of respondents said they preferred working under the new model, as they are given more autonomy in decision making and collaboration is easier (Schrey et al., 2020).
Agile ways of working are always team-centered. Adopting a team-based organization enables companies to streamline decision-making and break up functional silos. This results in competent and authorized teams gaining better customer access, improved customer value and employee experience, and more effective operations.
By now, most business leaders are familiar with the concept of agile teams. Multidisciplinary and autonomous teams boost collaboration among employees, and help people work to their full potential as members. According to Rigby, Sutherland and Nobles, agile teams have undeniable results when implemented correctly: “… They almost always result in higher team productivity and morale, faster time to market, better quality, and lower risk than traditional approaches can achieve” (2018).
For a company to successfully reorganize into small agile teams, good communication across the different teams is crucial. The company needs to establish a common shared understanding (CSU) of its main strategic goals and direction. The following article will discuss CSU and investigate what communication might look like in “the new normal”.
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