How Shared Governance Supports the Logistics of Decathlon France
Learn how Decathlon ⛺ kickstarted their path towards shared governance 🤝, what has worked or not worked so far and what lies ahead.
Luc can publish research on managerial innovation and dress up as a rooster on the same day.
Luc Bretones, co-founder of The NextGen Enterprise, interviews Jean-Baptise Delrieu, Transformation leader for shared governance at Decathlon.
Could you briefly describe your professional experience since you joined Decathlon?
I joined Decathlon in 2008, where I worked as a Warehouse Team Manager for 3 years, before becoming Warehouse Director in 2011.
Since early 2021, I’ve been handling the transformation of warehouses on a more national scale.
Six additional warehouses have volunteered to get involved in the transformation project I'm leading.
Would you consider Decathlon – a company that the French hold close to their hearts – as a purpose driven organisation?
I think Decathlon was launched and developed putting teams and people at the core of the organization’s identity.
Practicing sports is central to the company’s very strong company culture where people share team values and collective victories. There’s a genuine care for supporting co-workers and the values of sports.
To what extent does it impact our world on a social and environmental scale?
The social impact is reflected through our communication about our internal values, the work of the foundation and the support of employees which, in my opinion, fosters a real proximity between the customers and sales people in the shops.
When it comes to the impact on the environment, I’d gladly point to the efforts made to reduce the company’s carbon emissions.
How did you experience the managerial innovation deployed by Decathlon in the past years?
Could you share the most relevant points & give us feedback on the best practices and the ones to steer clear of?
Decathlon embarked on the path of the liberated organization.
This resulted in more freedom in the decision making process on a local level, the tweaking of some organizations and a call to work on one’s self, through in-company courses on self development and coaching for example.
That liberated the energy within. It inspired beautiful local initiatives and led to a reassessment of certain managerial behaviours.
On the other hand, it wasn’t always clear who had the authority to decide and, at times, there appears to be a lack of logic and gaps into how decisions could be made.
The decision making progress must be made very clear: how is the decision made, with whom, under which perimeter.
It is important that managers work on themselves and question their own relationship to authority and power. Otherwise, whenever something is not explicit, there’s the risk of defaulting back to authoritarianism and stifling collective intelligence. The higher up the manager, the more important this self awareness.
You have more than 10 years of experience in warehouse logistics within Decathlon, in which you’ve deployed shared governance.
Could you once again share with us the most relevant points & give us a feedback on the best practices and the ones to steer clear off in terms on the matter?
The system changes when shared governance is implemented. Everything is done differently: roles replace trades, operational & governance meetings replace management meetings and the decision making process changes radically.
As a result, internal relationships change as well: we move from an environment dominated by competition to a new one where cooperation replaces rivalry.
There are best practices or behaviours to avoid at different levels.
First of all, we shouldn’t underestimate the investment that this transformation demands, in both time and money.
In addition, external support of the organisation, and particularly management, is paramount. Especially since, starting from a certain level, all members of the organisation should be coached.
Then, it’s important to set the right pace for the change, neither too slow nor too hasty. I would say we should aim for small steps by small, decisive steps.
As with every project, it’s important to start from a real need to make the project meaningful. It certainly shouldn’t become the purpose of the organization, but rather an element that helps it thrive.
Lastly, investing as much in tools as in people is key. Investing in tools for decision making methods, meeting processes, a role based organization are important. Investing the time and resources to understand how people work and react to different situations is just as important.
What are the mid to long term projects to which you’ll be contributing to pursue the transformation of managerial practices and governance in Decathlon?
I’m currently energizing the role of “Transformation leader of shared governance” for the Logistics department of Decathlon France.
The logic behind this role is as follows: decide on a training program with the help of external consultants and the direction committee in order to spread this shared governance to other volunteer sites. External coaching is also meant to help us train future coaches in-house.
Ideally, in the long run, these new ways of working will be so well developed in the Logistics department that the board of directors of Decathlon France will support this project further.
I will try to get the attention of the “Training & Managerial Innovation” department in order to strengthen their support. This would allow us to consolidate our approach and make it sustainable in the long run. At the present time, it remains fragile.
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