Do not tell my mother that I am an agile leader, she believes me big boss omnipotent!

12/2018 | article

Flat and molecular organizations, holacracy, opal companies, agile governance … more and more companies of all sizes and sectors are taking the leap towards a new organizational & managerial paradigm, more adapted to our times. We went to interview several bosses who chose to switch in these new collaborative modes that distribute the decision-making power closer to the field in order to gain speed of adaptation. And at home, agility is not agitation but the ability to reconfigure itself in real time to react to distortions and seize opportunities in the environment. Whether they are entities of 100 or 1600 people in France and abroad, their testimonies overlap. For reasons of freedom of expression and discretion, they chose to remain anonymous.

1) Why did they choose to implement agile governance?

To this question, their answers mark a sense of urgency, a strong necessity:

  • “I had an obligation to change the raison d’être of the entity, the survival issues of a CIO that should bring more value to its internal customers. I did not have the answer alone in my office, I solicited my colleagues, then our Campus management “.
  • “We decided it collectively. The marketing team was completely renewed and its Director said “I would like my team to be agile. We will move into agile governance. For years, we have been struggling with the difficulties of the very fast evolution of our products and our markets, etc. As a result, we spent our time reorganizing and we were never happy with the result; it consumed a lot of time outside our core business. “

2) What were the main stages of implementation?

“We had to go from agility and loyalty to the team! “

  • Awareness that one had to go through agility: 6 months;
  • Operational implementation, new types of meetings, new agile organization: 6 months.

1- CODIR trainings and managers: more history of hierarchical links (January); 2-Seminar of the whole entity (June); 3 – Info CHSCT, etc. ; 4 – 6 months of blank operation; 5 – Validation of trade union organizations

For the largest entity:

  • Experimentation within a limited scope of Marketing;
  • Very voluntary and curious adoption of the CODIR experimenting for 2 months;
  • Deployment via awareness days, launching ramps (tutoring of key meeting facilitators in situ) and training-actions, incentives to use new modalities of circles and agile meetings instead of traditional CODIRs.

3) Moments that marked them?

“I had some substantive questions from employees:” OK, this is developing our autonomy but how can we be sure that it will last? I replied, “you are able to make decisions in your personal life and now in your professional life … you do not need me anymore”; The field employee understands very well the speech of the manager of the company. Why want to go through intermediaries? “

Good question actually!

Other reactions heard and experienced: “Only with the synchronization meeting on Monday, I saved time!”; “We have managed to resolve latent litigation for years between 2 teams in 15 minutes of governance meeting: It’s effective and it gives a sense of satisfaction. ”
The two leaders underline that a major lever of conviction of managers is their experience of these new types of meetings and the efficiency generated after sometimes years of frustration, lost time, or even seized or chaotic operation.

4) What difficulties did they encounter …?

  • With their teams?

Surprisingly, few difficulties seem to have been encountered on both sides: “Very few difficulties! We always have a few dubious people; they are drowned in the mass and end up getting caught up in the game. It is not always easy for the managers to create their roles at the beginning and to be at 3 hierarchical levels (of the past organization) in the same circle. It really repositioned the core business. “

  • With themselves?

To put it another way, go from “big boss” who decides everything or almost to “agile leader”, not too violent?
Here are their answers:

– “I had the classic attitude of the boss tried to be interventionist … My teams still sent me emails to ask for arbitration … my PMO in charge of this transformation reminded me regularly not to answer! What made me much progress is the discussions with the person who accompanied us. It is very easy to decree that one delegates; it’s harder not to intervene! ”
– “The tensions that still led to me were often resource-related. In a company that locks budgets, it made me live with paradoxical injunctions. I kept them at my level and found solutions. ”
– “I am passionate, I have not found major flaws in the method. It does not deal with the emotional, it puts it away from the roles so it should be treated side by side more strongly. ”
– “I do not want to do” HR management “anymore; it does not interest me to manage people, the number, so it suits me very well! “

5) What has agile governance brought to them in their function?

– “The intellectual satisfaction of having an effective method that sticks to reality, operational. Short meetings, hyper effective … and it works even without me! ”
– “This is the first time that I find a really broken system (since the 80s) that allows to put into action the principle of subsidiarity; there I have a protocol, a framework of rituals, which allows me to self-control, self-regulate, not to transgress; it also encourages injecting new, very collaborative approaches. ”
– “We postpone his ego and valuation on something else that seems much more interesting! ”
– “It leaves time to anticipate, to do the day before … his real job. ”
In short: subsidiarity in action, efficiency and refocusing on the core business!

6) What has agile governance brought to them as a person?

– “As a facilitator, it allowed me to work on detachment; I also developed a lot of non-action. It also brings clarity and makes you wonder: in what role do I speak, I act? ”
– “It’s relaxing, relieving, it removes a moral weight on the manager, I arrive in the morning much more serene …”
It is therefore not only the function that finds its place in this new paradigm, but also the person: More non-action, detachment, clarity and serenity for the leaders questioned.

7) And if it was again?

Given the answers to the questions above, no surprise for this last question in conclusion:

– “If we had to abandon the agile governance, it would be a problem for me and I would probably continue at my level anyway! ”
– “All the same … I would like to do it again in my new functions! My successor inherits the system; she is delighted and the teams do not want to change their method … When you took power, you do not want to make it! “


Florence Hunot, co-founder of SPINDLE.

NB: A big thank you to the interviewees for the time devoted to these interviews and their confidence.
About the Author :
Florence Hunot has been an entrepreneur for 20 years, coaching leaders and teams. With Alexandre Boyer, she created Spindle, a group of entrepreneurs who support organizations to gain in speed of adaptation & smooth running thanks to new HR and digital technologies that make the success of start-ups and agile companies .