Team Management in Agile and Automated Organizations

How does Top Down Management Work and how does Flatter Management Work?

Traditionally, managers were used to the Top Down Hierarchical and Command and Control organizations where orders were sent from above and the managers had to implement them with little autonomy or agency for their individual decision making abilities.

Further, team management in such organizations was all about implementing and executing the commands from the top and through the vertical hierarchy rather than innovating on one’s and the team members own methods.

This hierarchical model served the purposes of the Industrial Era firms where there was not much needed for improvisation and innovation and hence, the First Industrial Revolution brought in its wake the Top Down and Command and Control organizational structures.

However, with the advent of the services and the IT (Information Technology) revolution, the organizational structures began to change in response to the changing needs of the marketplace where organizations had to be responsive and fast paced to adapt and adjust to rapidly changing market conditions.

Therefore, team management became more autonomous and modular as well as flexible in design and geared to thrive in uncertainty and ambiguity as well as complexity and volatility.

This was necessitated by the services revolution that many likened as the Second and third waves of Industrial Revolutions.

The Age of Transition and the Emergence of Agile Organizations

Having said that, even during the services revolution and the concomitant rise of flatter and networked organizations, managers still were expected to be attentive to the hierarchy and to respect the command and control modes of decision making.

In other words, even when organizational structures were not so rigid as earlier, team management was still in transition with managers being in flux as they were juggling the needs of the hierarchical model with that of the autonomous and agency driven approaches.

Now, when the Digital Age is well and truly upon us, there is another wave of change in the way organizations operate with the emergence of agile organizations that consist of self sustaining and compact teams that are modular and not rigid as well as flatter and distributed.

In Agile teams, there are no fixed roles and each team member Wears many Hats such as being a designer, coder, tester, and implementer all at the same time.

In this context, it is worth noting that team management in such cases is not defined clearly as well since the managers too have to play multiple roles.

Team Management in the Agile Organizations and Managers as First Among Equals

So, how does a manager go about his or her duties in Agile and automated organizations? To start with, the very definition of manager and team management has to be re-evaluated since Agile teams take all decisions by themselves and work like liquid and elastic types of decision making and adapt to fast changing customer demands.

Therefore, the manager in such cases is the First among Equals which means that he or she has to simply go along with the team and the collective decision making processes and has to ensure that the team as a whole performs rather than the manager directing them.

The best analogy to describe how team management in Agile organizations works is to take the case of Football where the Team Captain and the other players are all directed by the coach and each of them are equal to the other with less hierarchy.

Unlike Cricket where the captain has a major role, Football is a Great Equalizer and a Leveller where the captain is just the First among Equals.

Apart from this, team management in agile organizations also needs multi-skilled managers who can switch from task to task and from skill to skill astutely.

Old Order, New Order, and Becoming Future Pioneers

However, despite agile teams being modular and compact and self sustaining, there is still a need for reporting lines and dotted line and straight line hierarchies as far as how managers need to keep their superiors abreast of the activities of the team are concerned.

In other words, while we are witnessing the decline of Top Down and Command and Control, the old order of things is still holding sway since we have not yet reconfigured the entire organizational structure for the Digital Age.

In other words, we are in the early stages of upheaval and reordering of organizational relationships and hence, the pioneers of the new order of things are emerging.

Please read the previous sentence again if you want to make a difference to the emerging models of team management since the field of management is in a flux and hence, if you want to be one of the cutting edge practitioners, the best you can do is to innovate and improvise in present or future careers so that you can be hailed as a Change Agent.

Indeed, this is the time for all harbingers of the future to seize the initiative and become role models for the professionals of tomorrow.


Last, soft skills are as important as other skills in Agile and Automated organizations. Therefore, our suggestion for you is to invest in yourself and upgrade your skills especially the softer ones so that you continue to remain relevant in the changing times.

More so if you are already a manager and would like to be on Top of the Game in the future as well.

In addition, we also recommend that you invest in Reskilling and retraining so that you can reinvent and reshape yourself.

To conclude, with the world being in the midst of a transition to the Digital Age, team management and the role of managers is going to change dramatically and hence, be prepared and act accordingly.

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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to and the content page url.

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