On Communitas

Agile adoptions thrive on strong feelings of communitas. Communitas is “the spirit of community”. When the spirit of community is “up”, the space is open, and the feeling of communitas is strong. When the spirit of community is “down”, the space is closed, and the communitas is weak.

And you know exactly what I am talking about. If you love going to work, the spirit is “up”. If you cannot wait till Friday, the spirit is “down”.

With respect to Agile adoptions, communitas is essential. It comes from clearly understood and uniformly applied rules. It comes from a sense that everyone is engaged. It comes from a sense that we are going through this together.

During Agile adoptions, everyone is being triggered. What is my role? What are the rules? When does this end? What does this mean for my status in the group? Executive leaders are triggered. Managers are triggered. Team members are triggered. A new game with new rules is stressful. In a no-mans land of new rules, new roles and unfamiliar ways of working, is it any wonder Agile adoptions routinely fail?

Passage rites can help generate communitas– the very spirit of community. Cultural anthropology says that people going through a passage rite do in fact have the same status during the passage. Participants have widely varied status, going in.

Then the communitas kicks in: all are coming from a known place, and going to an unknown place. All of them make the difficult and even dangerous passage, together. And after it is over, all have changed from what they were, to what they now are. Passage rites can help manage the liminality of transition.

Passage rites are intentionally designed cultural experiences. Repeat: intentionally designed cultural experiences. They are cultural-experience designs. Passage rites are designed to create feelings of community.

Agile adoptions generate a steady stream of stressful liminality, because the learning in Agile is constant. “Continuous improvement” is the goal. That generates a ton of stress on your culture. Learning is change, and change is stressful because it produces liminality. The passage rite is a cultural device for managing liminality.

Passage rites bring communitas, and communitas brings comfort. All the participants going through the passage rite experience a beginning, a middle, and an end. They experience it together. As a community. As a tribe.

This structuring of the unstructured is very comforting, and reduces worries– and stress. Passage rites are extremely useful devices for helping you obtain a rapid and lasting Agile adoption.

Open Agile Adoption is a repeatable technique for getting a rapid and lasting Agile adoption. It works with what you are currently doing, and can be added at any time. It incorporates the power of invitation, Open Space, passage rites, game mechanics, storytelling and more, so your Agile adoption can take root.

Related Links:



Passage Rites

Open Agile Adoption

Back to Open Agile Adoption home