Successful agile organizations are strongly oriented towards a common mission despite the guiding principle of self-organization. Autonomy requires orientation, otherwise it leads to chaos. Of course, all other organizations also claim for themselves an appropriate vision and mission. Agile organizations, however, are more impact-driven. They focus more on outcomes and measure the impact that these outcomes make. Traditional organizations are more input-driven inasmuch they try to plan exactly which input in terms of resources is needed
There are all sorts of ideas. And those who have visions should consult a physician, as Helmut Schmidt once said. After all, the most important thing is that the business runs efficiently, and wild ideas only get in the way of that. If they nevertheless haunt your organization, here are three surefire ways to kill any innovation right from the start.
Agile organizations rely on the principle of subsidiarity. Decisions are always made as decentralized as possible. The next higher or next larger unit only takes action if the smaller unit is not able to solve the task alone. But even then, the objective is still to help people to help themselves. However, this only works if autonomy is given a common orientation towards a higher purpose. Constant work on and with this purpose as a guideline is thus one of the most important leadership tasks in an agile organization. And actively assuming responsibility in the sense of a common mission is the most important task of the decentralized units, by which their autonomy is legitimized.
For Winston Churchill it was crystal clear that without courage all other virtues would become meaningless. It is not only in society and politics that we need courage more urgently today than we have in a long time; more would also benefit our companies and their employees. We need courage to make traditional organizations fit for the future. The current absolutist-hierarchical building principle has finally served its purpose. In the age of digitalization and knowledge work, our companies require a new enlightenment with a more consistent separation of powers. Immanuel Kant’s motto for the Enlightenment should therefore stand above every gate: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!”