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The 5 trademarks of Agile organisations

Wilhelm Crous - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

With organisations now placing more emphasis on adopting Agile philosophies, practices and processes McKinsey advises that there are five trademarks that need to be in place in order for organisations to succeed in implementing Agile.

The figure below highlights the trademarks with the corresponding organisational-agility practices:

Note: Click here to download this chart as a PDF to share with your colleagues.

Adapting those trademarks calls for a mind shift across all the trademarks from a machine age to a new paradigm of networks and agents.

1. North Star (shared purpose and vision) embodied across the organisation

Mind-set shift
From: “In an environment of scarcity, we succeed by capturing value from competitors, customers, and suppliers for our shareholders.”
To: “Recognising the abundance of opportunities and resources available to us, we succeed by co-creating value with and for all of our stakeholders.”

2. Network of empowered teams 

Mind-set shift
From: “People need to be directed and managed, otherwise they won’t know what to do—and they’ll just look out for themselves. There will be chaos.”
To: “When given clear responsibility and authority, people will be highly engaged, will take care of each other, will figure out ingenious solutions, and will deliver exceptional results.”

3. Rapid decision and learning cycles

Mind-set shift
From: “To deliver the right outcome, the most senior and experienced individuals must define where we’re going, the detailed plans needed to get there, and how to minimise risk along the way.”
To: “We live in a constantly evolving environment and cannot know exactly what the future holds. The best way to minimise risk and succeed is to embrace uncertainty and be the quickest and most productive in trying new things.”

4. North Star embodied across the organisation

Mind-set shift
From: “To achieve desired outcomes, leaders need to control and direct work by constantly specifying tasks and steering the work of employees.”
To: “Effective leaders empower employees to take full ownership, confident they will drive the organisation toward fulfilling its purpose and vision.”

5. Next-generation enabling technology

Mind-set shift
From: “Technology is a supporting capability that delivers specific services, platforms, or tools to the rest of the organisation as defined by priorities, resourcing, and budget.”
To: “Technology is seamlessly integrated and core to every aspect of the organisation as a means to unlock value and enable quick reactions to business and stakeholder needs.”

It is clear that HR departments have an increasingly important role to play in guiding organisations adopting Agile principles. In fact, your HR department should lead the implementation of Agility to set the pace for the whole organisation.

Learn more about implementing Agile practices in your organisation

If you’d like to learn more the theories and practical applications behind the Agile movement and discover local and international case studies on the implementation of Agile then don’t miss the HR Goes Agile Conference. You’ll have a chance to hear from companies, such as: Accenture, ABSA Group, Microsoft and more.

You can access the complete programme here

You will also have the opportunity to attend two pre-conference workshops on 19-20 August in Sandton:
For more information please contact Katie van der Schyff on +27 11 706 6009 or


Aghina, W., Ahlback , K., De Smet, A., Lackey, G., Lurie, M., Murarka, M., & Handscomb, C. (2019, January). The five trademarks of agile organisation. McKinsey & Company.




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