Are you ready to dance?
Are you ready to dance?

Are You Ready To Dance?

What it takes for an organization to become agile

Hell yes! The answer, or rather my answer, to Nuno Rafael Gomes’ question in his post “Shall we dance?”, an essay using dancing the tango as metaphor to explain how he views organizational agility compared to being agile.

He explains that organizational agility is not the same as agile. Agile is something you can do alone. Organizational agility on the other hand requires a whole team effort.

It takes two to tango.

He further explains that organizational agility is about being able and taking action on that ability. It’s about a dedicated practice towards mastery. It’s about having the space and freedom to move around, the direction and alignment to move together. It’s about trusting your partner, and a balance between tension and fluency.

It’s an inspiring post filled with golden nuggets of wisdom, and here is my response in an attempt to continue the dance, viewing it from the perspective of how masculine and feminine works together to enable organizational agility.

It’s all about relationships

You can be the best developer, the best UX designer, the best tester, the best CEO, the best marketer. But being the best on your own means nothing if there’s no-one to metaphorically dance with. Relationships are at the heart of success. Whether it is at organizational agility or marriage.

It’s the age of the choir, not the solo performer.

If you’re trying to do it alone, or stand out, or be the best, or always be the one that’s right, you’re not a team-player and lack trust. Chance is that the people you work with don’t meet your expectations and that means you as a team will never succeed.

Successful relationships can only happen when you know the strengths and weaknesses of each party involved, is willing to engage in occasional conflict with the purpose of restoring harmony through understanding, and accepting each other unconditionally. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable.

In a team setting, it means that each person needs to feel safe to freely express themselves. It means that engaging in conflict is seen as a tool for shared understanding, not punishment.

So with relationships at the heart of a team, what makes a team or organization agile?

1. Organizational agility requires passion

The difference between an average and awesome tango is the passion and spark between the two dancers. The difference between a good relationship and a great one is also passion.

In an organization, passion is driven by the purpose of the company and its alignment with that purpose. As Simon Sinek says, successful companies start with why. And why is never profit. Profit is the result of the why, not the reason.

When you work for a salary or reaching a specific position, passion is most likely not your driver. When people ask you what you do, you’re most likely to respond by saying something that sounds like “I’m a developer”. When, however, people ask you what you do and you respond with something that might sounds like “I help more people have access to sustainable energy”, there is purpose behind the statement. It’s still a developer, but what does he develop? And why?

Where there is purpose, there is passion.

To reach organizational agility, you need team members who are driven by passion. You are as weak as your weakest link.

2. Organizational agility supports

When a woman falls back sensually during the dance of tango, she knows that her partner will catch her and support her. He won’t let her fall. It’s this inherent trust between the couple that makes the dance so beautiful.

To reach organizational agility, each team member needs to feel fully supported. Pyramids simply don’t work. In a pyramid with the CEO on the top and the worker bees at the bottom, everyone supports only one person at the top, which is not a mutually beneficial relationship and thus not sustainable.

A more supportive organizational structure is required where each role is equally supported and supportive. For more about my view on the leadership paradigm for the future, read my post.

3. Organizational agility aims for balance

The tango is such a exquisite art form because it is the perfect union of two opposites — male and female. The male and the female that engages in the dance is equally important.

There is not a winner and a loser, there is only a unified couple.

Organizational agility is no different, and it can only be achieved when the entire organization as a whole, living organism, attempt to find balance between the different elements.

Each team member should contribute something unique to the organization. Copy-cat roles and functions simply don’t work. It’s about understanding and appreciating the differences, not attempting to mold everyone into what is seen as the “ideal” role-model for a specific role. It’s about discovering each person’s “ideal” and allowing them to fulfill that role within the company.

A man and a woman are very different beings. A man is strong, giving, willful, forward, logical. A woman, however, is soft, receptive, creative, forgiving, caring, nurturing, intuitive. When a woman is expected to behave in a more male way in order to succeed in an organization, the balance is thrown off.

In nature, when the balance is disrupted, some corrective action must happen to restore the balance. Usually, it means floods, famine, disasters, or disease. In organizations, it relates in volatility and sometimes the dissolving of the organization as a whole.

To reach organizational agility, you need to find balance and harmony between the different teams.

One team that is agile is not enough to make an organization agile. Each team and business unit must be agile and live in harmony with the other teams and business units in a supportive whole.


Organizational agility is the mastery of a tango dance. It takes two opposites coming together in a harmonious dance to make it beautiful.

Each part of the organization must support the other parts, be driven by passion and always aim for harmony and balance.

Originally published on Medium: