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Why the Agile Mindset Matters

Event: Academy of Management Annual Meeting (AOM), 03.08.2021


Volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity (VUCA) are drivers in today’s business world. Therefore, an increasing number of organizations implement agility (agile methods) to cope with the rapid and accelerating change. However, these agile transformations do not succeed unhindered, and some fail. One reason for that is the employees lacking an agile mindset and they do not support or participate in the transformation. So far, knowledge of the agile mindset is in its infancy. A conceptualization for developing a measuring instrument on the individual level is lacking. Furthermore, the relevance of the agile mindset regarding organizational performance in a VUCA world is still unclear. Our study aims to close this gap. To do so, we examine the agile mindset with 15 qualitative interviews and conduct an online survey (N=449) to predict organizational agility and organizational performance based on the agile mindset. As for results, we conceptualize the agile mindset as an attitude that comprises four dimensions: ’learning spirit’, ‘collaborative exchange’, ‘empowered self-guiding’, and ‘iterative value creation’. We have found an indirect effect of the agile mindset affecting organizational performance towards organizational agility. These findings contribute to the agility and management research by providing both a conceptualization and a measuring instrument for the agile mindset. Furthermore, the agile mindset´s relevance in agile transformation is explained and its relation to organizational performance outlined. For successful agile transformation, executives must focus on the agile mindset of their employees and foster this by e.g. being a role model.

Karen Eilers, Benedikt Simmert, Christoph Peters, Jan Marco Leimeister

3 Aug 2021