Journey to the land of Agility

12/2018 | article

This is the first in a series of articles aimed at introducing you to the country of Agility. Still a marketing invention will think some, a fashionable tip of consultants for others.

First, let’s be clear, I am not a consultant but an entrepreneur (not easy to feminize that word!), Rather coach on the edges, and “profile” of talent. An entrepreneur who has been accompanying other entrepreneurs, managers, managers and their teams for 20 years.

Until then everything is fine, but what would I do in this agile galley? And what is this country of Agility?

Before making it a country to visit, consider that it is a portmanteau in which everyone projects his representations, his experiences when he has and his fantasies. Pell-mêle include: responsiveness for those who love to take action at the foot of the wall (sometimes very close to the wall!), Ability to adapt to its environment for the most neutral, excess flexibility for the most worried, manifest history and project mode for SCRUM insiders.

Contrary to popular belief, agile mode is NOT a disorganized, unframed operation in which everyone does what they think is relevant to events, if possible at the last minute. Some executives sometimes say to me proudly: “Me my company is agile because it is super responsive, we spend our days to extinguish fires and to run everywhere …” Yeah … likely that hyperactivity is preferable to immobility but at what price for people? what sustainability?

Agility is the ability to reconfigure quickly & efficiently without destabilizing to react to distortions & opportunities

For us (Alexandre Boyer and myself), agility is the ability of an Organization to reconfigure itself quickly and efficiently, without destabilizing itself, to seize opportunities and react to distortions. It requires specific methods and postures, and above all it is based on a very different culture from traditional organizations.

But in what way would it be a “country”? Precisely because one speaks a different language, the customs are specific. Our experience has shown us that it is not just about learning the language and gaining some attributes to be able to decipher the culture and live it … just as learning Mandarin and wearing Mao passes will not be enough to allow you to live like a Chinese and integrate culture.

So in which case to take an interest in this new country? Should everyone visit it urgently? The paradigm of agility is a response to complexity. Flute … another word to define! To put it another way: if you consider yourself, your business, moving in a complicated world … agility is not (yet) for you. Demonstration below …


On reading this diagram, many leaders tell us: “We perceive our environment as uncertain, changing (in acceleration), interactive (butterfly effect) so complex … but we continue to work in complicated mode! “. Obviously this generates malfunctions of all kinds: delays and / or additional costs for the marketing of new products, loss of market share, decline in performance and profitability, exhaustion of teams (RPS …), disengagement, etc.

Beyond these observations, I for my part interested in the customs of Agility by exploring a question that remained a few years unanswered: Considering the speed of evolution of our environment and the slowness of organizations to transform themselves, how to operate to avoid enchaining outdated transformations just started? A complicated question this time, simple answer: by transforming a little whenever it proves necessary, or to say it differently by reconfiguring itself in real time. Yes but how ? It is here that agile methods and postures bring unmistakable and unique answers. Because in agility, employees are lookouts committed to serve a common purpose. They synchronize each week to share the opportunities and distortions observed and they have complete autonomy to react as quickly as possible, in the roles that are assigned to them.

In Agility, exit the dusty function cards stored in the oubliettes of the organization & 5-legged sheep

Because in Agility, exit the dusty function sheets stored in the oblivion of the organization (objectively, who reads his function sheet every week to guide his action?), Exit the 5-legged sheep forced, in the end, to prioritize the activities for whom they are competent or particularly controlled by their boss … In Agility, roles and teams are reconfigured as often as necessary according to the internal and external needs of the Organization.

But this is another story we will cover in our next article: “Agility: tribes, fauna, flora & climate”.