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Management article
Reference no. R1803F
Published by:
Harvard Business Publishing (2018)
Revision date:
in "Harvard Business Review"
10 pages


When implemented correctly, agile innovation teams almost always result in higher team productivity and morale, faster time to market, better quality, and lower risk than traditional approaches can achieve. What if a company were to launch dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of agile teams? Could whole segments of the business learn to operate in this manner? As enticing as such a prospect is, turning it into a reality can be challenging. Companies often struggle to know which functions should be reorganized into multidisciplinary agile teams and which should not. And it's not unusual to launch dozens of new agile teams only to see them bottlenecked by slow-moving bureaucracies. The authors, who have studied the scaling of agile at hundreds of companies, share what they've learned about how to do it effectively. Leaders should use agile methodologies themselves and create a taxonomy of opportunities to set priorities and break the journey into small steps. Workstreams should be modularized and then seamlessly integrated. Functions not reorganized into agile teams should learn to operate with agile values. And the annual budgeting process should be complemented with a VC-like approach to funding.


Change management; Cross functional teams; Innovation; Leading teams; Managing creativity & innovation; Organizational structure

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