How to get the agile movement out of its dead end

This is a simple text to express how I feel about the agile movement. It is about presenting my observations with my analyses, my categorizations, my convictions, my proposals. I let you express yours wherever you want. I don’t mean that mine are better, just that they exist, here they are.

By “agile movement” I mean the dynamics of companies and organizations to know how to evolve well in today’s complex world. So the question for me is how to take advantage of the observations and the knowledge we have to enable organizations to have more impact, to enable people to have a better life, because it is more meaningful.

Today this “agile movement” is dying.

It mocks itself.

On the one hand, it completely loses its meaning when it is adorned with a whole host of certifications with no head or tail and, above all, whose content is at odds with the thinking behind this adaptation to the complex world. These certifications are accompanied by framework, bases, to sell and reassure (see Why should we be wary of SAFe). It is a golden loophole for organizations to guarantee homeostasis, immobility. The good news, though, is that the deception is starting to show, as the blatant lack of success is hard to go unnoticed, and the prank is starting to last too long to hide.

On the other side, a kind of hara-kiri, seppuku, agile companions who, finding no hold in organizations 1, lose all credibility by getting caught up in magical thinking, or a picturesque originality, but empty to this day (alchemists, gardeners, farmers, permacultivators, circulars, openers, etc.) because it does not bear fruit. Finally, there are also the players, the leaders of airy centres, who swear by the games. Over the years (because I too have done a lot, mea culpa) I think that agile games are pleasant to play, a reassuring support, intellectually a little sparkling, but do not unblock situations, do not provoke awareness, do not lead to powerful conversations. They are in the field of play, and not elsewhere, contrary to what one would have us believe. As in the case of certifications and frameworks magic recipe, games, magic drifts, nothing has borne fruit. No results in sight. So, either we are very bad or it doesn’t work.

In the books that compile the new businesses that are dear to this community (Freedom Inc, Reinventing Organizations, etc.), no games, no frameworks, no certifications.

This is not the right topic of conversation

The “agile movement” would be much better today in my eyes if it anchored all its conversations in reality, in the real world. Let him speak the language of the people he accompanies. A simple and direct language. I’m with an entrepreneur and I talk about the topics and the context of the entrepreneur. I am with an educator I speak about the subjects and context of the educator. Etc. Their subjects, their frameworks, their realities. No jargon. No evasion. No imposition. We come with our convictions, and our experiences to enrich their subjects. Their subjects are central.

Reducing complexity to simple language, to simple questions. Not simplistic. It also means reducing decisions to structural choices, since they are reduced to their essence. If we bring the questions back to their fundamentals, the choices made necessarily have amplitude.

Imagine if we proscribe from all these conversations the themes of the game when the game is not the subject, benevolence when benevolence is not the subject, framework when framework is not the subject, and so on.

I want powerful conversations, constructive confrontations, which are only possible if we talk about things, about real subjects. They exist, they are drowned out by other themes.

So 1) All conversations speak concretely about the subject for which accompaniment is required, with the words of the context. Simple, adequate words, no roundabout ways.

The conversation’s not in the right place.

Talking about the heart of the matter is talking about the heart of the company. It’s often the leaders, but not always. We must try to address the real issues in the real places. It is not easy. But it must be pointed out. Make it clear that this is the conversation that should take place.

Point 2) Speak from the heart of the company. Where decisions are made.

It’s better to waste time trying to do this than trying to do something else.

Without intention no salvation

By clarifying the purpose, by being concrete, one quickly observes whether the desire to go in the defined direction is present or not. This does not mean going fast or not. It means validating the intention. Point 3) If the intention is not there, withdraw, you may come back when it is ready.

Again I’m not talking about speed, the intent may be there, and the speed may be very slow. But you know how to judge if the intention is there or not. If it is a lie (conscious or not) or a real desire. When in doubt you can also put this question in the middle of the conversation.

If it turns out the intent isn’t there. Thank you for stepping down. By playing the game of deception, by using makeup, by staying present, you’re blurring all the signals, all the messages, all the responsibilities. Deciding this is a few months (not a few weeks, it’s too short to know). Don’t play the short term, and the vicious cycle, let’s play the long term and the virtuous circle: don’t feed the beast.

3 points to get out of the dead end

Do not pretend, do not hide behind playfulness or magic (in the words of Laurence).

1) All conversations are about the subject for which accompaniment is required. Simple, adequate words, no roundabout ways.

2) Talking at the heart of the company. Where decisions are made.

3) If the intention is not there, withdraw.


  1. I think that agile games exist to save from mental insanity the people who are taking the systems head on. Kind of a dreamlike escape route. Like the hijacking that happened at the sketch. ↩︎


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