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Three Ways to Structure Your Team for Greater Agility


A clear, well-designed hierarchy can help your team become more agile, according to Ross School of Business Professor Lindy Greer

Although the popular concept of agility in business may lead some to believe they should eliminate all formal structures, Greer builds on her published research in this area to argue in a new essay that the reverse is true: A lack of hierarchy can make agility unattainable, while the right structure can actually enable and enhance it.

Writing for Entrepreneur.com, Greer notes, “At the end of the day, there is no substitute in a team for a good leader. A clear hierarchy — with a strong leader — allows teams to know when to flatten out to ideate or fall into rank to get things done quickly — and that starts to look like true agility!”

In the article, Greer explains three “hacks” to create agile teams using organizational hierarchy: 

  • Make sure teams are clear about the task at hand, and that they know how to flex in and out of more hierarchical ways of interacting to match the given task.
  • Train leaders on how to match their power displays (and the surrounding perceived hierarchy of the team) to team needs.
  • Use cultural rituals to signal task transitions.

These tools can help organizations “enable their teams to flexibly and fluidly adapt to changing task and market demands,” Greer writes.

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