Eileen Mandir

Inside Agile — An organizational design research project

Employees in shared office
Guidance system through highly specialized departments

Everybody is bording the agile train – it seems. But what does this new way of working and leading really offer? And how can established companies transition from silo-departments to flexible agile team structures?

Motivation and goals

Although agile work models are at the core of digital transformation, I find that there is a space very little explored today: what being agile feels like in real life. From my own experience as a CPO for a Corporate Startup in the automotive industry, I know that, in a framework that declares »People over Process«, the critical success factor is how people live agile. I wanted to know: What does this people-centric approach demand from people individually, in groups or teams, and organizations as a whole? What was their journey?

Case study design

This study is based on 60-minute 1-on-1 interviews with agile practitioners from various industries such as Advertising, Automotive, Business & Consumer Services, FinTech, Internet, Manufacturing, Mobility, Music, Publishing, Software, Technology, Travel. To get different perspectives, I spoke to agile professionals with distinct roles within an organization (people with a tech or business role, ranging from expert to manager to C-level, as well as agile coaches). In total, I have interviewed 100 people, i. e. five employees of 20 companies. This large number of interviews made it possible to identify common challenges, patterns, pitfalls, and success factors.

Interviews: Field reports from agile organisations

Interviews: Field reports from agile organisations

Analysis: Mapping of emotions

Analysis: Mapping of emotions from agile team members


The findings of this research were captured in a condensed report which was provided to each partnering organization that supported this project through their employees participating in interviews and will be the basis for further publications. The report contains cross-company insights that shed light on common patterns, challenges, and best practices in agile organizations. Beyond that, each partnering organization was offered observations specific to their company in a personal debriefing call. These company-specific observations are confidential and not disclosed to anyone outside the respective organization.

Inside Agile research report

The report presents key findings on three levels:

  1. Insights on operational performance at the staff level: High-performance agile teams operate in a coherent context that supports collaboration in their unique company culture. The report presents three successful agile archetypes that emerged in this research.
  2. Insights on organizational development at the leadership level: Agile goes beyond roles, tools, and processes – it has become a metaphor for a people-centric organization. The report offers an approach to agile employee engagement based on the principles that servant leaders practice.
  3. Insights on navigating through agile transformation at the systemic level: Although every company is unique, the potential for learning from successful patterns is huge. The report condenses real-life stories of the companies engaged in this study into a best-practice agile transformation journey.
Direction / Design / Research:
Eileen Mandir
Participating companies:
AOE, Axel Springer Ideas, Bosch, door2door, EOS uptrade, Fastbill, Lufthansa, MCS, moovel Group, Native Instruments, PTV, Seibert Media, Strato, Welt / N24, Wunder, Xing

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