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One of the most important new trends in Organization Development (OD) is the concept of the agile organization. This is an area of expertise for assistant professor Rachael Narel, Ph.D., one of our newest faculty members in the Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior program at Benedictine. Narel will be publishing a forthcoming book on the subject as part of the Contemporary Trends in Organization Development book series. You can read a short excerpt of her work here:
October 20, 2017
The world in which businesses operate today is uncertain, chaotic and changing at a more rapid pace than ever before. The environment can shift in an instant, which is why static or rigid approaches to change are no longer sustainable.
Organizations are realizing they need to become more adaptable while still remaining strategic.
This is why company leaders and OD practitioners have been searching for new methodologies to allow them to not only survive, but thrive.
In recent years, the field of OD has started providing more tools and resources to help organizations increase their agility and capacity for learning. An agile organization is nimble and able to sense the changes in the environment so it can respond by making informed decisions quickly.
As a new faculty member in the Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior program, my research focus has been on the agile organization. This is a concept I have observed and experienced for years while working in corporate IT and software development environments. At Benedictine, I am able to explore the theoretical applicability of the Agile Organization at the broader organization level through Benedictine’s OD programs. We teach these concepts to students in the program so that they can help transform their organizations to thrive in today’s dynamic business world.
We are really at a pivotal moment where OD practitioners are being challenged to guide organizations through continual change processes at breakneck speed. When created using positive methods, such as Appreciative Inquiry, the agile organization is a sustainable model for continued adaptability. It also has the additional benefit of helping mitigate worker burnout and frustration in circumstances of frequent change.
There are major implications for the role of technology in agility. We are now able to rapidly gain information about the environment and the organization for faster decision-making in real time and predict trends in the future. The key is being able to harness this data and make sense of it. This is why Benedictine’s OD programs are currently adding more technology components to the curriculum so students can learn how to leverage them more effectively.
It is clear more research is needed on the various facets that need to change in order for the organizational system to become agile. Through collaboration between faculty and students in both the Ph.D. in Organization Development and M.S. in Management and Organizational Behavior programs, we look forward to continuing to explore this topic and contribute useful research for both theory and practice.