It has to be admitted that start-up management, with all its flexibility and responsiveness, has given international groups a bit of a shake-up. But they have got the message. So, in a company like @Saint-Gobain, created more than 350 years ago, we have promoted the notion of agility as being one of the main qualities expected of our managers.

Agility, the ability to decide and act quickly and to anticipate, must create an environment that is conducive to the rapid implementation of innovations, even if not everything turns out to be perfect the first time around. Agility is also a mental attitude. You need considerable mental agility to be open, to listen to our environment, and identify the latest market and social trends. It is up to organizations to adjust in order to allow these behavioral changes in our constantly evolving world.

To my mind, this approach has three main benefits.

  1.  Today, each of us can be in contact with anyone, anywhere at any time. Being agile is what allows us to work more closely with customers, to understand them and serve them quickly.
  2.  In a large company, agility is the antidote to the weight of the organization, enabling us to cut through management layers, break down any partitions, and simplify certain reporting processes.
  3.  By allowing teams to act with agility, we encourage them to take the initiative, we encourage team spirit and collaborative approaches, and in so doing, we allow them to fully express their innovative potential.

I would add one thing that to my mind is crucial : we must not confuse agility with a lack of discipline. You can only evolve in an agile manner within a safe framework that is understood by all. That is why our goals and strategies need to be defined and remain clear over time. You can only be agile when you know where you are heading.

At the end of 2016, Saint-Gobain introduced its “ Attitudes ,” which define the five key qualities that all of its 170,000+ employees must demonstrate in order to underpin the Group’s strategy: create great living places and improve daily life by designing, manufacturing and distributing materials and solutions which are the key ingredients in the wellbeing of each of us and the future of all.