We are now an “agile company” and we want to lead more agile! This phrase is very often heard by German managers. As Nowotny says in his book “Agile Companies – Only What Moves Can Improve”: We Summon the Spirit of Silicon Valley and Break Up the Company’s Gray Clay Layers. There should be a rethink, away from skewering. Everyone should get involved and the “German fear” should be taken away. But why are we doing this and doing the right thing in the first place?

Companies move, because only what moves can change or what do you mean? Apparently this thesis is correct, because former startups such as Tesla, Amazon and Apple, which are now global corporations, are driving the sweat of fear on the forehead of established corporations such as Daimler, VW, DHL and Rolex (Nowotny 2016, p. 23ff). A vehicle development in just three hundred and sixty days like Tesla? Delivery of parcels by drone on the same day as with Amazon? Can an innovative AppleWatch watch soon attack established brands like Rolex head-on? But what makes these companies? They have integrated agile methods into their daily work and have established an agile “mindset” in the company in recent years. Brave, innovative and agile, these agile companies and startups, like hungry wolves, are rushing into new markets and opportunities that the incumbents are currently not touching (Nowotny 2016, p. 23). You can look at a more accurate characterization of an agile company in my other article on the definition of agile and evolutionary companies.

Why are companies suddenly agile?

In his book, Nowotny shows what the reasons are for becoming an agile company and how managers are more agile. In addition to the aforementioned reasons in the blog for the need for agility (customer satisfaction, etc.), Nowotny provides another approach, which is very exciting: namely, the demands of the generations on the companies are growing.

Representation from a separate text at Unternehmer.de

You can clearly see in the picture that each generation places more demands on companies. While the Baby Boomers were apparently still satisfied to be in the company at all, Generation Y is only crying out for participation and as a manager you don’t want to imagine what the requirements will be. This approach makes clear sense, since employees are the highest capital of companies and many companies are in search of employees. I always notice this myself when I get a daily new offer to change the company through my consulting job. I also note that many companies cannot cope with the fact that an applicant has more options or a permanent employee could change at any time. So how can you, as a company without agility, even find an employee if he has 30 more offers? There are even approaches to an agile HR, which are explained in another article. The goal of every company should therefore be: to lead more agile in demographic change.

What is an agile company and can we lead more agile?

The reasons are really well listed and there is much to suggest that agile companies are also sustainable companies. But it is still not entirely clear what exactly the interpretation of an agile company is. Scrum alone is not enough to be really agile. Perhaps it is one of the concepts of sociocracy, holocracy or democracy that is the answer. But it’s not sure yet, and we’ve still got some case studies to do whether this is really agile and evolutionary. I have already described in another article what constitutes agile and evolutionary companies. In the further course of the research, I will now observe agile companies and carry out case studies. The goal is to find out if this really brings an improvement and the models are really agile.

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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Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

Nowotny, V. (2016). AGILE COMPANY – FOCUSED, FAST, FLEXIBLE: Only what moves can improve. Berlin: BusinessVillage.


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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