Some years ago, when we were managing a project or developing a product, we didn´t have many doubts about what or how to do it. We had our best practices, processes, templates, roles, and management areas to organize and create a plan and follow it. We were good at monitoring eventual discrepancies and adjusting the route along the way. Those were the days of predictive approaches. We had a lot of successes, built incredible products but also, some failures. 

Time has passed quickly, and adaptive (agile) approach has come and stroke the world as a hurricane. A new mindset was incorporated, as well as principles and practices. Hundreds, thousands, millions of people started the so-called agile transformation. 

People thought the new silver bullet would save the world and all our organizational and management problems would be solved. Everyone was very excited with the emergent reality. Once again, we had a lot of successes, built incredible products but also, some failures. 

Having said that, let´s compare these contexts with a fictitious businessman (Christian) who had a management leader (Andrea) for ten years. Very effective, with a great experience in her duties, but a little bit conservative, Andrea has helped Christian to achieve exceptional results.

In one of his meetings with his friend Max, Christian was suggested to change Andrea for a new manager, with different ideas, updated tools, and more aligned with the marketing demands. After some consideration, Christian made his decision. To hire Anastasia, a young manager highly recommended by Max. 

Christian got very excited with how effective Anastasia was, as well as everyone in the office. The results were coming, and everyone has finally discovered a new way of working, which was completely different from what Andrea used to preconize.

But time and reality are relentless. Little by little, Christian and everyone in the office discovered that despite of the beneficial changes, something was missing, and finally, realized that some of the things Andrea used to do should be done again. Not in its entirety, but together with Anastasia`s practices. 

Christian rehired Andrea and invited Anastasia for a meeting. In one side of the huge table was Anastasia, and in the other, Andrea. They didn`t know each other and Christian made the proper introductions explaining the highs and lows of each one and said:

  • Girls, imagine that one of you is the color black and the other is the white. 
  • The black is great, beautiful, and useful in many situations, but not in all. 
  • I can say the same about the white.
  • But between the pure black and pure white there are fifty shades of gray.
  • There are much more greys than the pure black and white.

Andrea and Anastasia were not understanding what Christian meant by the story of black and white.

  • Andrea, your methods, practices, models, and everything else are great, but not for all situations. You are the black.
  • Anastasia, I can say the same about you. And you are the white.
  • What I want you to do is: Get together, find a way to mix everything you know and bring me a new way of working to our company. 
  • I want something flexible enough to be used in any situation taking the best of both of you. 

They looked at each other silently for a few seconds and simultaneously said:

  • But I only know how to work on my way!

Christian replied:

  • That´s the point. I don´t want any radicalism.  
  • We need to deliver value for our clients and for the company. I truly believe that there must be something that I am calling “Fifty Shades of Management”.
  • Sometimes I need a dark grey and I want more from Andrea and less from Anastasia. 
  • Sometimes I need a light grey and I want less from Andrea and a more from Anastasia. 
  • I don´t want pure blacks or whites anymore. 
  • I definitely, came to the conclusion, that I need you together, not apart.
  • Get your job done! 

Some weeks later Andrea and Anastasia return with something that amazed Christian, what is rare, considering he is an insatiable person. 

  • We materialized what you called Fifty Shades of Management. 
  • After long talks we realized that we really could work together and that is what we want to do from now on.
  • We discovered that putting everything on the table and choosing what we need, according to the context, is not only a good idea, but the best way to manage something.
  • It is a world where every combination of practices, tools, models, frameworks, and techniques is possible and can be used accordingly.
  • WOW! It looks great, said Christian.
  • And there is something else, commented Anastasia. 
  • We discovered that the only way to put everything together was to flexibilize our previous concepts. Otherwise, they wouldn´t fit. We created a powerful model able to be used in any scenario, business type or size.
  • Finally, said Andrea, we found out a way to integrate our transformational initiatives (projects, programs, and portfolios) with our business operations.
  • What? Asked Christin. Are you serious?
  • Yes, it is possible. We have tested the model and it works very well.
  • We called it FLEKS Model and we made it available for free download in our website. Anyone can benefit from it.
  • It is a great pleasure to hear that. Said Christian.
  • I knew you wouldn´t let me down.
  • Congratulations girls.
  • So, let´s #befleks.