The blind leading the mute - Formal leaders’ potential to facilitate institutionalization of the agile myth
Conference contribution, 2019
More and more firms are moving from a plan-driven to an agile approach to new product development, a transition that entails significant challenges not least for managers and formal leaders. In this context we draw on institutional theory and conceptualize agile development as a myth. By considering the adoption of the agile myth in previously plan-driven product development we illustrate a paradox whereby agile development constrains the existing agility embedded in informal structures. To illustrate this, we provide an example from an ongoing ethnographic study of a product development unit currently undergoing a transition from plan-driven to agile development. We further synthesize our theoretical argument with empirical observations by presenting two distinct personas, The Blind representing the formal structure, and The Mute representing the informal structure, and draw potential from this illustration for how formal leaders can act to overcome the paradox.