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Garry Berteig Reflects on Being Agile in a Crisis

This post by Rachel Perry originally appeared on the Agile Advice Blog on August 24th, 2016

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Garry Berteig Reflects on Being Agile in a CrisisOn May 03, 2016 wildfires encompassing Fort McMurray, Alberta forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 residents, including many friends, family and associates of BERTEIG.

One such resident was Garry Berteig, a co-founder of OpenAgile, and long-time resident of Fort McMurray.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Garry from his home in northern Alberta. He presents some meaningful insights into how living and working with an agile mindset helped him and his family move through the disaster with stability. The following articles shares, in his words, some highlights of his experience during and after the event.

BEING AGILE IN A CRISIS
By Senior Agile Coach Garry Berteig

Most of the time, when you are acting with agility you are sort of ready for change or turn in direction anyhow. You know what you have to do so your tasks are already in motion, your tasks are already moving towards “done”, not that you have your suitcase packed already but you already know what is the most important thing.

It’s the same for corporations. It’s just not so direct or life-threatening as this catastrophe was but for some companies catastrophe is a slow burn.

The actuality about what occurred, was quite different than the media reports. The media reports were at best simple, at worst a high-level notion.

Yes there was a line of cars, and they show a line up of cars [in the news] but it doesn’t tell you that some people were in one way or another in a state of calm because they are used to being involved in safety measure. That group was relatively calm.

There’s another set of people who were actually terrified and not able to be rational so they have to be handled carefully.

Then another group of people who were on the opposite extreme were kind of ‘having a good time.’ It was taking them away from their normal routines so they were making light of the whole situation. They were rolling windows down, playing loud music, giving peace-signs, stuff like that.

The real take-home point, having landed in Edmonton and being involved with people here is that the kindness, hospitality, generousity and sympathy that people revealed was amazing.

This is a feature that I share and have been sharing with other people who have also found the same thing. It’s been quite remarkable. Their private lives had an opportunity present itself openly. In my opinion, it represents a spiritual condition. Usually people hold that in to themselves and have no opportunity to express that. [They want to be kind, generous and helpful but keep it internalized.]

The government and non-profits have also been incredibly efficient and helpful. Because of all the other experiences with other catastrophes, their quick response to 90,000 people leaving Fort McMurray was remarkable. Within one week they had arranged for financial support for all those people. That to me is the material future of Canada. It is positive. The material and spiritual future of Canada is very great. And that is what I’ve seen here.

The other point is that before Fort McMurray was black-listed by the media but that has turned 180 degrees. Now people will realize the participation in this city from all over the country. The nation raised 1 million through the Red Cross.

Thankfully, not only is Garry and his family safe and well but all other friends and associates are also settling back into their routines and beginning the long journey ahead of restoration and recovery.

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UPDATE: August 03, 2016 – Unbelievably, epic flooding has now hit Fort McMurray, and in places the flood waters are damaging houses which had survived the fire. More updates will be shared as they emerge. Garry’s family is still doing well.

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