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For Business
March 12, 2014

Growing agility: what can centaurs teach us about innovation?

What is Growing Agility? Well, firstly it’s the latest ebook in the Smarter Everyday series, which you can download here. But beyond that, it’s a concept that we hope you’ll find useful in your working life.

As you’re bound to have experienced, you can’t predict and plan for every eventuality, and you can’t control the external factors that influence your business. What you do have control over is how you respond. That’s what growing agility is about: becoming more flexible in your behaviour, and developing the ability to dodge, jump, tackle or even pick yourself up after being hit by those curveballs that work can throw at you; whether it’s getting feedback that’s hard to swallow, losing out on a promotion, or a unsuccessful project.

In our animation about Growing Agility we use a mythical beast, the centaur, to try and explain the concept a little better.


The myth of the centaur was born in Ancient Greece, when people saw horseback riders for the first time. Because they’d never had the idea to tame, train and ride a wild horse themselves, the concept of a person on horseback was inconceivable. The centaur – half man, half horse – was their attempt to interpret what they saw.

The ancient Greeks that invented the myth of the centaur weren’t agile, but the centaurs were. They made a mental leap and realised that they could harness the strength, speed and stamina of the horse for their own needs, even though it hadn’t been done before. And as a result, they ended up being elevated to mythical status by their less innovative peers.

Centaurs reappeared many years later in the 1990s, with the invention of centaur chess, where players brought their sport to new heights by playing in partnership with computers. Amateurs were able to defeat grandmasters by combining the analytical power and vast memory of a machine with the human capacity for creative decision-making and mental dexterity.

Both kinds of centaurs show the rewards that can be reaped by being agile enough to spot the opportunities offered by new ideas, emerging technology or change, and taking advantage of them swiftly. In our working lives, we should all aim for the kind of agility exemplified by the centaurs.

In Growing Agility, we’ll look at how you can become more agile on a personal and emotional level, and also at how you can scale those ideas up to teams and whole organisations.

Download the free ebook here.  What do you think is the next stage of growing agility? Share your thoughts here!