Become agile? Oh no. 13 tips on how to successfully prevent agility

Table of contents

Become agile? Oh nooooo.

In this article, we take a look at the topic of becoming agile from the other side – the humorous…
We hope you enjoy reading it!

Agility trend

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to avoid the topic of agility at the moment: Nowadays, everyone is expected to become agile, manage projects agilely and lead agilely. Companies should be able to react quickly, be innovative and introduce flat hierarchies. And next to all the boards with colorful notes, foosball tables, table tennis tables, white sneakers and orange beanbags suddenly appear in the company – just like in a youth club.
It’s totally in right now. But let’s be honest: you don’t have to chase every trend. And what for? – Just because a few shady management consultants claim to have reinvented the wheel and want to sell it at a high price? Nope, you’re not taking part.
This much-vaunted agility is no reason to be thrown off course. You don’t need to concern yourself with that; it’s for barley grass-drinking hipsters. It will soon pass again. You have seen many things come and go.

Agile office

And what’s more – everything is basically going really well in your company!

Yes, well – ok….admittedly: Employees grumble. But hey, when have they ever not done that? That’s not a criterion.
A boss is a boss and should not fly his flag in the wind. Join in with this agile stuff and restructure everything in the company? No thanks! After all, you have work to do and no time to play around:
Customer requirements are constantly changing, it is becoming more difficult to remain competitive and new employees are hard to find. These are real problems and table tennis won’t help. And the most important thing of all: the company has to earn money!

Agile no thanks!

And to ensure that this agile fuss doesn’t get in your way, it’s best to stop everything that is launched in the direction of agility. As we have seen in recent years, there are many tricks that companies use to avoid becoming agile. And it’s not even particularly difficult.
Here we show you how to nip agility in the bud.


Inflexible instead of agile


Does everyone really have to become agile?

In some companies, agility seems to be the “holy grail”. You already feel uncool if you don’t stick colorful notes or work in Scrum. But is that really necessary? Are agile methods suitable for every activity? Find out whether agility really always makes sense in our video by Susanne.

Tip 1: Stability instead of change and flexibility

Agility means a high degree of flexibility. Agile companies can react quickly to changes and adapt to customer requirements. Therefore:

Stay inflexible!

Stay the course; come what may!
Ultimately, do everything as you always have and don’t let anyone talk you into it! After all, you are the boss.
– Besides, you’ve always done it this way, so what’s suddenly wrong with it?
And don’t just follow others: Decide for yourself what the customer needs!

Do not accept any requests for change!

Develop a plan for your employees to carry out. You set the rules. And that’s that. No discussion. If everyone had a say and solutions were sought together, you would have chaos in the company. This would create momentum and changes that would be difficult to stop.
New rules, processes, organizational forms? Out of the question! Insist on compliance with existing rules and processes, because you have to be able to rely on something.

Always reject innovations!

Another new program? And then there are all these buzzwords. That doesn’t have to be the case. It used to work – and much better. Most of the topics surrounding this “agile” are just old wine in new bottles anyway. Co-creation? We have always talked to our customers! Iteration? We have always taken countermeasures when things go wrong. And the customer appreciates it when he knows what he can rely on from you.

Thwart everything that has to do with agile!

That goes without saying, doesn’t it? So: no articles, consultations or even workshops! It’s unthinkable that anyone in the company could enjoy it! If you keep the subject as far away from your employees as possible, they won’t get any ideas.




Tip 2: Micromanagement instead of visions

In agile companies, a holistic approach is taken: a general direction is set and the employees shape the path in this direction.
Wait a minute – the employees? – That would be even better! How are your employees supposed to know exactly what to do? This requires a clever mind – like yours. You are not the boss for nothing – and the others are not. You have to tell them exactly what they have to do. And anyone who has visions should see a doctor. So:

Regulate every detail!

After all, your employees should do everything exactly as you specify. Otherwise it won’t work anyway. Micromanagement is exactly the right way to prevent agility: you avoid a situation where the solutions proposed by your employees lead to major deviations and everyone does what they want. Stability and reliability can only be ensured with comprehensive rules.

Use as many regulations as possible!

Basically: The more detailed your specifications, the better! Because the tighter your network of rules, regulations, certifications and standards is, the busier your employees are to comply with them. You must ensure that every action you take complies with the rules. This leaves no room for independent thinking. That’s a good thing, because that would be the basis for agility.
Create a little confusion:

Occasionally arrange for your employees to work completely free for a day!

– It’s best to tell them to work agile today. End the day with a “See, you can’t get it together without tight leadership.” This kills two birds with one stone: you damage the self-confidence of your employees and ensure that the term “agile” is not a good idea from the outset.


Control and traceability


Tip 3: Trust is good, control is better.

Check that your instructions are being followed exactly!

It’s not acceptable for everyone to do what they want. As you know, when the cat’s away, the mice dance on the table. Therefore:

Ensure traceability!

What is that? Traceability is a possibility that allows you to trace exactly who contributed what to a result. If something goes wrong, it is important that you hold the employee responsible. Traceability not only significantly increases bureaucracy; your employees will think three times about what they say or do in future. This makes your company wonderfully sluggish – the opposite of agile.




Tip 4: Decisions

In agile companies, employees have significantly more decision-making responsibility. Not so with you: Decisions are always a matter for management. Ultimately, everything should ideally be approved by the higher management levels. Who knows what would happen otherwise!
Budgets in particular should be strictly regulated: For budgets of €100 or more, at least two management levels should be asked for permission, and in writing. Just have it all countersigned.

Push through your decisions!

Why discuss all the factors in the team? That only causes unrest.
Make sure that critics get a good smacking. It is best to create an atmosphere in meetings where nobody dares to say anything. In this way, you will soon ensure that nobody wants to contribute their ideas. Goodbye agile!

Take your time!

As you know, decisions should be carried up through as many hierarchical levels as possible. Agile companies react quickly to customer requests. You don’t want that. So don’t be afraid to leave employees and customers in suspense.




Tip 5. Feedback

Avoid management feedback!

Feedback? Yes, of course, you give this once a year when you explain to your employee that he or she will have to step on the gas a little more next year.
You don’t need to listen to that yourself. Once this breaks down… Who knows, you may then have to discuss your specifications and be called into question. Strong leadership does not tolerate contradiction. You learned that during your military service.

Tell your employees what is not running smoothly. Ideally loud and clear, when as many people as possible are listening.

This is when the learning effect is greatest: Everyone knows that they better not make any mistakes because otherwise they will be publicly criticized.




Tip 6: Mistakes and failures

An important principle: there must be no mistakes!

Mistakes are a clear sign of incompetence. Or for not meticulously following the process you specified. No, no, no – there is no room for mistakes. You have to make that clear to people. Then the employees also know that they should finally concentrate a little.

Denounce mistakes!

Agility means trying things out. And trying things out means that not everything works straight away. So if you want to prevent your employees from experimenting and looking for new solutions, you immediately find the culprit if something doesn’t work out. Ideally in such a way that everyone notices. And not only that –

Sanction every misstep!

The best way to do this is to set an example: fire the guilty party. This will ensure that your employees think twice about what they say or do… And that, if in doubt, they prefer not to do anything.
As you know, standing still is the opposite of agility.




Tip 7: Communication

Control communication within the company!

Communication should run from the top down. If necessary, then sometimes in the opposite direction. But please don’t criss-cross! If one department wants to communicate with the other, managers should always be involved. Otherwise there will only be cliques.

Save on information!

In agile companies, there is transparency so that everyone can obtain the information they need themselves and can act immediately. So this is not in your interest. Therefore: Keep information under lock and key and spread rumors when the opportunity arises. Such information puzzles will keep your employees on their toes. With your own fake news, you instigate frustrated hallway conversations and let your employees develop their own theories that lead nowhere. How to thwart agile solution attempts.




Tip 8: Leadership and status symbols

Hold on to status symbols!

The office with a view of the park, the latest Mercedes convertible, the parking lot right by the front door, the well-coiffed secretary serving Italian espresso – you’ve earned it over the years! Others used to sit here and you had to bend over back then. Now you’re sitting here and the others are supposed to buckle. That’s just the way it is. And: it stays that way!

Avoid eye level!

You know how the hare runs and you don’t need to be talked into it by some young whippersnapper. A brief opinion is okay, but only if you have asked for it. Otherwise, your employees should remain humble towards you. You say what is done and how. You have to earn your say through decades of service and success. Once you have slowly climbed up the hierarchy, you will eventually be allowed to make decisions.

Don’t let anyone call you by your first name!

Young people today have bad manners: They are on first-name terms with everyone, interfere everywhere and actually believe they can be seen without ties. And then there’s loud laughter and this constant cell phone typing. That’s not how it works, your company is not a children’s birthday party. Your company is serious, it needs respect, hierarchies and formality. And since it’s easier to say “Du A…!” instead of “Sie A…!”, it’s better to stick to “Sie”, then such disrespectful language won’t even get started.




Tip 9: Competition

Agile working is based on teamwork: the more diverse a team and the better the communication, the easier it is to work in an agile way.
This means for you:

Never praise and reward the whole team, only the best!

Make it clear that everyone fights for themselves and that the runner-up is only the first loser. Publish rankings of your employees and show who the winners and losers are. In this way, you encourage envy and lone wolves and paralyze teamwork.

Create competition and rivalry among your employees!

It’s not so bad when there’s a bit of competition in the company: everyone knows that they have to work hard if they want the bonus or the promotion. And he keeps relevant information to himself so that he alone wins the race. This also helps to prevent employees from fraternizing against you, because their colleagues are their biggest enemies. A bit of a bad working atmosphere can’t hurt, people are there to work, not to have fun.




Tip 10: Workplace

Separate your employees spatially!

As you know, teamwork is the foundation of agility. It is therefore important to prevent this consistently. One possibility:
Let your employees work as far apart as possible: in separate rooms and, if possible, even in different locations. Everyone will first knit their own stocking instead of exchanging ideas with their colleagues.

Prevent informal meetings!

There is a lot of talking in the corridor or in coffee kitchens. So make sure that nowhere is really inviting. And restrict access to rooms that would be suitable for spontaneous meetings, for example with electronic key cards.


Areas of responsibility


Tip 11: Divide and conquer

Here are a few helpful tips on how to prevent collaboration:

Minimize areas of responsibility!

Make sure that each of your employees knows exactly what is their responsibility and what is not. Ideally, you should reduce an employee’s area of responsibility to a single activity. The rest is none of his business.
And do the same with teams and departments: clear separation. Each department works on its own task.

Promote silo thinking!

Neither the employees nor the teams should exchange information about their work, problems and results across tasks. Be careful – this could become agile! This could lead to teamwork, synergies and innovative solutions. We have already said it above: communication should only take place via managers.

Assign access rights!

To prevent communication between departments, you should ensure that the departments cannot look into each other’s cards. Access rights are helpful here: if your employees cannot communicate with each other and cannot access the processes and results of others, then you are not only preventing learning effects, but also cross-competence and cross-departmental collaboration. And this prevents agile working: Because bringing in many perspectives and ideas is an important foundation of agility.




Tip 12: Expertise

Create bottlenecks!

As we have just discussed, everyone should only do their job and refrain from other activities. Take it to the extreme!
– You need experts: employees who are the only ones who can perform certain tasks. In this way, you ensure that the experts have mountains of unfinished work and others have to wait for it. Good bottlenecks are also managers who have to make so many decisions that they don’t even get around to them. Then employees wait forever for things to move on – for nothing!
Being agile means being able to react quickly – and you will prevent this in the long term

Use special tools!

You can further enhance the effect by using special tools that can only be operated by very specialized experts. Ideally, each department should have its own program with just one expert. Traffic jams are inevitable.
Agile won’t work that way. Guaranteed!




Tip 13: Excessive demands

Keep your employees on their toes!

Get your employees involved in as many projects as possible. To do this, initiate changes in as many places as possible. Withhold information and do not communicate about it. Create confusion. Don’t worry: the changes you initiate will not be implemented, because your employees will be wonderfully overwhelmed. And that has many advantages: Your employees will reject change – and no one will have the time or inclination to deal with an agile transformation.


Conclusion Preventing agility


Conclusion: how to prevent agility

An agile transformation always means a change in corporate culture. If you put the brakes on, you can use agile tools such as Scrum – but you still won’t make any progress.
As you can see, you can use the simplest means to ensure that your company does not become agile.
These tips are based on over 20 years of experience in working with companies. We have not only seen how organizations prevent agility – we have been able to help many companies break down these barriers and become agile, i.e. lean, flexible and fast. And to get significantly more committed and happier employees as a result. We would also be happy to help you!
So if one day you do become interested in agility, get in touch with us!


Further reading on the topic of agile

We have already been able to shed light on the topic of agility from many angles in our blog – and because it fascinates us so much, we will continue to do so. Here you can learn the basics in small units. That is why we are listing some relevant blog posts on the topic of agile management / agile leadership here.
And if you don’t want to miss our upcoming posts, subscribe to our blog!


The authors

Oliver Grätsch
Michelle 550
Michelle Templin
Christian Grätsch
Matthias Beikert
Susanne Grätsch
Monika Bt 550x550
Monika Steininger
Kai Hübner
Philipp Andresen 500x550
Philipp Andresen
Anna Isabell Arendt
Dr. Claudia Schmidt
Inga Kühn
Kassandra Knebel
Claudia Lehmann
Komplettes Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Berliner Team