Applying Agility with Success in a Low-tech Sector

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Birgit Reithofer
4. semester, Kultur, kommunikation og globalisering, kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
“Agility? What is all this about?”
In recent years, the concept of agility has gained in popularity around the globe and therefore a lot of organizations want to make use of this approach – public and private companies alike. For whatever reason a company decides to do so, and there are many, in the end the organizational members are the ones who have to put it into practice, but they often have difficulties in grasping what agility is and requires, as the concept originally developed in the software industry. It often seems to be unsuitable for other contexts or simply impossible to achieve outside the IT-sector. Thus, the purpose of this research was to find out how a publicly owned company can apply agility with success in a low-tech sector.
The focus was on a Danish, publicly owned waste management company located in Hjørring. The main data for this research was derived from interviews held with the director of the Danish Waste Association, the CEO of the waste management company and five heads of departments as well as two more employees of the innovation department. The basis for the semi-structured questions was literature on agility, information about the waste management sector, a discussion about high-tech and low-tech sectors as well as the company profile and strategy, whereby the questions varied depending on the person interviewed. Additionally, a second set of data was created by asking the two interviewees, the heads of departments and the CEO to fill in a checklist about their perception of the current agility level at the case company. The main goal was to find out whether this perception differs on the two different management levels, but also to learn about potential differences between what they practice and what they perceive.
The research showed that agility definitely does not belong to those concepts where one simply pushes a button and suddenly it works, as people sometimes imagine it to be. However, the concept turned out to be an approach that is broadly applicable – it is not bound to any industry nor organization type, since also a company in the waste management sector could follow all twelve agile principles to a certain degree after adjusting them slightly. Important is that agility is apparently bound to a certain mind-set and a shared understanding when it comes to its successful implementation. Interestingly, the case company actually practices agility without being aware of it, meaning that the approach cannot only be imposed on an organization, but also develop naturally, because of the circumstances and how members of an organization make sense of them.
ID: 280179627