Ready for responsibility and freedom

Decathlon is changing. While respecting the past, we’re continuing to develop and innovate so as to improve what we do already, injecting greater responsibility and freedom into our organisation. This reiterates a basic principle: so that teammates are committed to the company’s mission but still derive fulfilment from their work, they must be free to take decisions, together if necessary, and to assume responsibility.

In 2016, Decathlon wrote its vision with its teammates who decide on our strategic focus areas, in order to guide the company’s future over the next ten years

Responsibility and freedom
in 2016

A summary

• Drawing on our company’s “raison d’être”, we invited teammates keen to get involved to help co-create Decathlon’s vision.

• We’ve shifted from an activities-based organisation to an organisation structured around geographical areas, to enable local decision-making for local people.

« Informed decision-making by those most affected by their consequences »

Since 2015, Decathlon has been incorporating a “principle of subsidiarity”, which means that each teammate should have the greatest possible degree of freedom allowing them to make good decisions that match needs as closely as possible. By giving everyone this kind of autonomy, the company is apportioning the responsibility of asking for advice to the teammates concerned and the experts in the field, so they can clarify the issues and their consequences.

With Vision 2026, teammates have devised shared 10 year targets for Decathlon.

The Vision is a key stage in the life of our business. Every two years, in conjunction with our teams across the world, we get the opportunity to rebuild our mission and our company’s objectives. So it’s not the first time Decathlon has conducted this exercise. But 2016 saw the whole process entirely revamped.

Jiao Li, leader of the Vision 2026 project, explains :

“We had a deep desire when co-creating the Vision for all our teammates to put into practice a day-to-day philosophy of responsibility and freedom. We built an agile and collaborative process, accessible by each and every teammate worldwide, regardless of their hierarchy, department or experience, enabling universal participation. The only criterion for taking part was motivation !”


Vision Leader, Decathlon

The concept of responsibility and freedom in practice: Decathlon Tournai, Belgium

A Decathlon store traditionally has a director, department managers and sales assistants; in other words, a three-tiered hierarchy. When Decathlon Tournai in Belgium opened its doors in October 2016, its teams immediately set up an extremely innovative and collaborative management system.

A store without a director
Coleader du magasin

At Decathlon Tournai, the management structure is different to that of other stores. Here, we have two co-leaders and 16 “sports entrepreneurs”.

Carole Janssens, one of the store’s coleaders, explains.

How are these roles organised in your store ?
We have one essential rule: store decisions are taken together, in conjunction with and with
complete respect for the organisation as a whole. Each person is responsible for these activities
from A to Z. Co-leaders have additional management responsibilities for HR and operations
linked to the building.
How have teams responded to this new collaborative method ?
Those team members already working at Decathlon soon incorporated the new model and
achieved excellent results, and we’ve seen some great leadership material emerge as a result.
But for the newest of our teams, it wasn’t always straightforward, in the sense that they would
often wait for someone to tell them what to do.
What is your vision for the future ?
To incorporate users into our decision-making process. They might be involved in decisions
about, for example, our assessment criteria, our opening hours or our communication. Our
vision also wants our users to be part of the team.