The integral Perspective on Agility
The term agility originally comes from software development. Today we talk about business agility and with this we mean that agile methods and processes are also used in other or in all other departments of the organization. For this to be successful, a mindshift, a cultural development of the organization is a requirement.
The agile movement is an answer to the challenges of the high and increasing complexity of our world and of organizations and markets. Classical features of organizations such as hierarchies, strong and often cumbersome management and control mechanisms, centralization and isolated teams are not a good fundament to respond quickly and with flexibility to rapidly changing market conditions or customer requirements.
There are a variety of agile tools and many discussions, which method is the most appropriate. In my opinion, this is the wrong question to ask at the beginning. Before we talk about methods, the goals and cultural change of the organization must be clarified and jointly defined. Once you have a map, where you want to go and what goals you want to achieve, it’s often relatively easy to define the appropriate tools. It’s not the choice of the tool that ensures success. What ensures success, is a clear and aligned vision and intention across the organization. The tools can also vary depending on the division of the organization where it is applied or on the actual milestone to be achieved. I call this holistic view at the start of the initiative integral.
Teal organizations live a fundamentally new corporate culture. The expression “Teal Organization” is known from the bestseller “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux. He describes how the organizations of the future can work. They are characterized by flat hierarchies, self-organizing teams, a holistic view of people and the world and an evolutionary purpose. Responsibility and decision-making powers are delegated at the team level. A Teal organization has a positive attitude of people. Collaboration with employees and market partners is based on trust and does not need any control mechanisms.
Is this possible?
If you read the descriptions of how such organizations work, you can hardly imagine from today’s perspective that this is possible. However, Laloux describes in his book ten examples of organizations that have been doing so for many years, in some examples even for decades. These examples are from all sorts of industries (including automotive, health, food, schools, energy, media). The number of employees goes from a good 100 up to 40,000. And what distinguishes these companies is that they do everything we think is not possible and are nevertheless highly successful measured with traditional performance indicators. Often even more successful than traditional companies in the same industry. They put the customer, the people, the meaningful in the foreground, the highest possible return is not a goal and yet their returns are mostly above average and their market performance outstanding.
I am convinced that development in this direction is not only possible but even necessary. Only by placing the human being, the planet, the meaningful in the center of our actions, we can master the challenges that come our way.
I like to accompany people, teams and entire organizations on this journey. It’s definitely a big journey. And as with any big trip, it is helpful to have a long term goal and divide it into stages and milestones. Thanks to an agile approach, the goal can always be adjusted. In order to achieve this and support you in your journey, I work with the tools and teams described here.