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Press release

Bain & Company releases groundbreaking new book on organizational agility, a key factor to navigating and bouncing back from a crisis

Bain & Company releases groundbreaking new book on organizational agility, a key factor to navigating and bouncing back from a crisis

Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk and Steve Berez dismantle the myths associated with agile, sharing brutally honest case studies from Amazon, Dell, Bosch and Royal Bank of Scotland

  • May 26, 2020
  • min read

Press release

Bain & Company releases groundbreaking new book on organizational agility, a key factor to navigating and bouncing back from a crisis

New YorkMay 26, 2020—Bain & Company today announced the publication of DOING AGILE RIGHT: Transformation Without Chaos (HBR Press; May 26, 2020) by Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk and Steve Berez, leaders within the firm’s Innovation, Agile, Operating Model and Enterprise Technology practices.

Agile— the business philosophy that relies on fast-moving, self-managing teams for innovation—has officially entered mainstream corporate management. What used to be relegated as a software development tool, is one c-suites are relying on to navigate the ongoing crisis and manage rapidly shifting priorities.

Implemented correctly, agile can be powerful, making people’s jobs more rewarding and turbocharging innovation. Implemented improperly, as it too often is, agile can lead to disappointing or even disastrous results. As companies rush to embrace agile amid global turbulence, the winners will avoid falling prey to these toxic mistakes.

In their new book, Rigby, Berez, and Elk offer an empirically grounded, practical guide to setting up agile teams, scaling up agile, and achieving the ultimate goal of a truly agile enterprise. The book is based on anecdotal evidence from hundreds of their own clients, diagnostic surveys completed by thousands of agile practitioners, and the collective experience of the more than 40 senior executives who participate in Bain’s Agile Enterprise Exchange.

The authors take a balanced approach to the challenge of implementing agile. For instance, even though agile is an antidote to despotic bureaucracy, it’s not a replacement for appropriate bureaucratic rules and hierarchies. Agile and bureaucracy, the authors explain, are like oil and vinegar: they are good together, but they don’t mix easily. DOING AGILE RIGHT shows how to harmonize them.

Featuring in-depth case studies from companies ranging from Bosch and Dell to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Amazon, insights include:

  • Agile teams use sprints not to make people work harder or faster, but to get faster feedback from customers.
  • The agile mindset abhors work in process since it ties up work while adding no value.
  • Big-bang agile restructurings tend to flounder.
  • You need more than structural change to break down silos and hierarchies.
  • Companies should use agile methods to determine how agile to be.
  • For agile practitioners, plans are testable hypotheses, to be adapted over time.
  • Front-line employees—not senior managers—have the best understanding of customer needs and should be empowered to drive innovation.
  • While agile practices can start in any level of an organization, senior leadership must ultimately be committed to create an agile enterprise.

Agile practitioners at any stage of their journey will benefit from the insights in DOING AGILE RIGHT, improving their own performance and helping other employees improve theirs. Most important, they will come to understand that, if they do agile right, it will be valuable, inspiring, and revolutionary for businesses that urgently need to reinvent themselves.

Darrell Rigby leads Bain & Company's Global Innovation and Agile practices, is a frequent speaker and writer on innovation, agile, and retail, has appeared on CNBC, CNN's Moneyline, and Bloomberg, and has had his research published in Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.

Sarah Elk is the global head of Bain & Company’s Operating Model practice and has deep transformation experience at the intersection of organization, agile, performance improvement and change management.

Steve Berez is a founding member and senior leader in Bain & Company’s Enterprise Technology and Agile practices, and has worked with scores of companies on agile transformation, software development acceleration, and digital strategy.

Editor’s note:  To request an interview with Mr. Rigby, Mrs. Elk, or Mr. Berez, please contact Katie Ware at or +1 646 562 8107.

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