In the legend of the Round Table, around 515 A.D., King Arthur gathers the best and bravest knights from the land at his round table. He did this to defeat the Saxons. An association of all nobles was necessary. The common goal led to an unusual and unique collaboration, certainly for that time.
The special thing about the Round Table was that all knights had an equal say. Everyone was heard and everyone’s opinion and expertise was taken into account in the final decisions. In addition, a number of rules were drawn up that the knights had to obey. For example, the knights were not allowed to commit violence or manslaughter, never be involved in treason, never be cruel, and not use violence against ladies, noble-wives and widows.
To say that King Arthur is the medieval founder of agile working goes a long way. Nevertheless, there are a number of interesting similarities between agile working and the method of the Round Table that we would like to take a closer look at.
Remarkably enough, being able to defeat the Saxons requires a new approach in which the established order, a motley mixture of landlords and knights fighting each other, must really work together for the first time. The ``organisation`` is completely transformed. A big change.
In the agile transformations that we regularly supervise, we see that the new way of working is a major change as a result of the need to work differently or rather more agile. In addition, a “team” is formed in which all team members have equal say:
All expertise of the Knights who took place at the Round Table is heard and decisions are made on that basis.
Agile teams are set up in a way that everyone takes an equal position based on trust. Teams are preferably multidisciplinary, which, together with equality, ensures that everyone can offer added value from their own perspective.The team makes a decision, not the manager.
At the Round Table, a number of rules are drawn up that everyone must adhere to, regardless of the circumstances. This goes so far that King Arthur had to prosecute his own wife, Guinevere, for adultery.
Although not always pleasant, it is important within agile teams to make clear working methods and corresponding agreements. This is the only way to achieve your goals. Not only should teams agree about the more obvious rules of the game, but also about behavioural agreements: how do we treat each other and how do we make sure everyone obeys to the rules and agreements?
The knights at the Round Table shared common goals: to seek and find the Holy Grail and to defeat the Saxons. These common goals bind the knights for a long time and cause them to subordinate personal goals.
Having a so-called “northern star” is also important for agile teams. Of course we strive for agility, but a direction (which can also change) or a “dot on the horizon” is necessary. Not only for the direction to be determined, but also for a common feeling.