In the course of the research, I have cited numerous books and sources. Now it was my intention to get to know the faces of the most important publications and to exchange ideas with them. So I had a dialogue with Valentin Nowotny on the topic of “Agile Organization”. Valentin Nowotny is author of the book: agile company – only what moves can improve. The graduate psychologist and long-time project manager now works as a consultant on the topic: agile organization. In the course of the project, I talked to Valentin Nowotny about theses of my doctorate and published here the summary of the conversation.

What does agility mean?

In the first part we clarified what agility actually means and came to 3 essential points: mindset, values, principles and practices. According to Nowotny, mindset and values as well as many principles of agility are already defined. Where literature is still at odds, however, is in the field of execution, precisely of practices. There are endless tools and methods here. There is no right or wrong here.

Companies deal with agility

When asked: What are companies actually doing?, Nowotny says: “They want to become more agile”. So companies are currently dealing with such agile practices and thinking: “How can we implement them, how does it feel, is it right for us?”. Nowotny accompanies teams here and sees as a critical success factor that people have to “talk” to each other. He said:

People have to deal with other people. Team processes are more important than ever.

Agile companies are moving

The title of Nowotny’s book is that only what moves can improve. Here Nowotny thinks he has deliberately dispensed with the word “change”. Because even things that don’t move change. For example, you will be old. But if something wants to improve, it has to move.

But where should it go? According to Nowotny, an agile organization is: focused, fast and flexible. Agility is not radical, but a constant process of change. Many companies are already very successful, but they also need to improve in order to be successful in the long term.

Only an agile organization can be successful in the long term!

In the short term, this thesis can be considered wrong. Many companies are currently successful and generate high sales. However, in the medium and especially long term, this thesis may be correct, according to Nowotny. Currently, agility is still uncertain: for example, practices such as self-organization of teams have not yet been researched and agile leadership is still being precisely defined. But today’s practices do not necessarily have to be successful tomorrow. An agile organization like Apple is now one of the most valuable companies in the world. German companies often try too little. An exception here is the German middle class (“Hidden Champions”). It strives for global markets and cooperation with other medium-sized companies and thus has a lot ahead of the DAX companies.

State of the Art in Companies

In the last part of the dialogue with Valentin Nowotny, I spoke about the current state of business. He himself thinks that the tasks in small companies are exciting, but there is often a lack of professionalism. If you go to bigger companies, it’s professional, but you don’t have the tension and confidence, Nowotny said. He insists that work should not necessarily be “professional” but “should feel right.” Just because a project has been fulfilled according to the guidelines, it does not automatically feel right. He states the following sentence:

Many work 8hours and do service according to regulations, and go home full of energy to do research and realize themselves.

According to Nowotny, Germany has become economically important through many small and large inventions. But now people are not focusing enough on their work as a real creative challenge. Agility should bring back this desire and start creative processes again with passion and pioneering spirit. Nowotny notes from his own experience that it is very frustrating to have applications approved at 3 hierarchy levels. In this way, employees lose motivation or even work in a parallel world. Nowotny means: On the one hand, they do the work required by the organization and then “back” the customer is secretly benefited.

In the companies, we have employees who build houses for half a million euros and act very responsibly here as a builder, and then have to secure themselves several times in the company because of an expense of, for example, 50 euros in the company, why this was inevitable.

Many thanks to Valentin Nowotny for the exciting dialogue and I look forward to comments and suggestions in the blog.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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