What is Agile?

I squirmed around, trying to find a comfortable sitting position at the conference that I had organized for my company. My belly was sticking out to some degree and the fat in my butt was nicely wrapped around my seat. I was at that inelegantly confusing stage of pregnancy, where the first thing I wanted to say to everyone I met was:

“Please don’t look at me like this; I am not a closet mass macaron eater. I am pregnant.”

As his captive audience listened seriously, the overpriced speaker on stage blathered on about one of the trendiest concepts in Human Resources: Being Agile.

Although I am not a HR person myself, I do work in the HR industry. And ah! How do I despise these two words put together: Human Resources. No other expression could better embody capitalism.

Indeed, Human Resource is the cog that allows this inhumanly human system to grind onwards. It makes me picture men and ladies silently and submissively queuing to offer themselves up to a leering row of greedy shareholders, all of whom make way too much money without actually having to work. We are the resource that turns the wheels of this imaginary machinery.

Anyways, I was paying attention to the speaker as he enthusiastically unfolded the secrets of this revolutionary concept of being agile. This concept promises all employees a happy corporate life. And it swears it will increase productivity – and when people use the word productivity, you know what they actually mean is profits.

What is agile?

It had my interest. Go on, Mr. Agile.

The knowledgeable orator explained that in order to be agile, one needed to:

– Continuously change

– Focus on one project at a time

– Simplify

– Coach instead of commanding

– Admit your mistakes and always experiment

– Encourage face-to-face conversations

– And regularly reflect and adjust your behavior or colleagues.

He continued, stating that the values one would be required to have are:

– Courage

– Focus

– Openness

– Commitment

– And Respect.

So in other words, this advanced and insightful concept being praised to high heaven by the world of HR, was basically nothing more than the rules of good parenting.

To be a good parent, you must:

– Continuously change ⇒ Yesterday’s tricks to manipulate your child into doing what you want will no longer work today!

– Focus on one task at a time ⇒ As you are taking care of the baby, you may think that you are multitasking, but actually you are simply focusing on keeping it alive. That is your main and unique task. You don’t know and remember what you are doing besides that.

– Simplify ⇒ When your “little you” keeps on asking why all the time, you need to be able to give a comprehensive answer to fulfill its curiosity. But be careful! You need to simplify reality without harming the veracity of the facts!

– Coach instead of commanding ⇒ In the XXIst century, parenthood is no longer about imposing rules upon your child and slapping them when they deviate from them, but rather all about explaining.

– Encourage face-to-face conversation ⇒ In today’s digital world, it is a good – and necessary – thing to remind ourselves of this simple yet crucial rule.

– Admit your mistakes and always experiment ⇒ Ah this one! It should be the universal motto of parenthood.

Furthermore, each and every value this expensive consultant claimed as crucial for an agile workforce, were all qualities one needs to have as a parent.

– Courage ⇒ Where do I start…?!

– Focus ⇒ When your little one is screaming so loud that you can see its uvula vibrating but you really need to change its diaper, focus is more than mandatory.

– Openness ⇒ Your child will never do what you want it to do, so best be open minded!

– Commitment ⇒ You are responsible for it until 18 years old…at least! So oui, commitment is required.

And last but not least,

– Respect⇒ It goes without saying!

Ah! It is a marketing coup!

It is recycling what is already known by repackaging it, slapping a cool new name on it and having people naively claiming it as a novelty. Even better, in these times, companies love pretending that they are just like one big family. They want the best for you, just like parents. They care for your wellbeing and, well, isn’t it one of HR’s missions to create this happy place for you?

I was proud of myself for not being fooled by this concept… despite being pregnant.

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