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Liberated company – dream or reality?

And what if agile methods were a stepping stone?

For many years I’ve taken a keen interest in project management based on agile methods. These concepts have become so much part of me that they today define how I operate, in both personal and professional capacities.

The question is now, can the system be taken to the next level and used to make in-depth changes to companies themselves?

Those taking an active interest in the subject have inboxes overflowing with news on novel management concepts such as holacracy, liberated companies and smart working. The vocabulary is rich but the goal is the same: entities must re-adapt to new technologies, the next generation and the world as it is today, a world in which change is occurring at a hitherto unseen rate. In this new paradigm, companies no longer need to micro-manage their employees. They – the employees – can simply manage themselves while having the space to create and carry projects on their own shoulders.

BUT once again, change needs to come from the top. Senior management must be convinced, and that’s often the rub.

A few months ago, I attended a day-long seminar on the subject of agile methods, held by Pyxis in Lausanne. Two talks in particular inspired me. The first was about the self-managing company, by Jonas Vonlanthen, a partner at Lipp. The second concerned capacity-driven management, by Alain Buzzacaro, CTO at L’Occitane.

The ‘Lipp’ experience is based on the concept of holacracy. The holacratic system was developed in successive iterations, between 2001 and 2006, by Brian Robertson from within his software company (Ternary Software). Aiming for more effective corporate governance, it draws on agile methods, lean production and the ‘getting things done’ method. In 2007, Robertson defined the official principles of his methodology, calling it ‘holacracy’.[1]