Overview Agile Transformation

Agility has become a significant factor in the development of mechatronic products as well. Because in an environment characterized by rapid change, increasing uncertainty and high complexity, agile working methods are superior to traditional management methods. We support you with appropriate change management on the way from classic to agile organization and ensure that agility will be a key driver of your company’s success in future.

The path to an agile company

The first attempts to agile methods date back to the 1980s – and they were done in hardware development. Their transfer to software development happened later. Today, the agile development of physical products in the manufacturing industry is a state of the art method. Agile working methods are a response to the increasing speed of change and the associated uncertainty, especially with regard to customer requirements and technological developments. Agile industrial companies respond to these typical factors in the VUCA world (from Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) with

  • agile leadership,
  • empirical process control as well as
  • adaptive planning.

Autonomous activity has more space. The development team regularly presents interim results and discusses them with relevant stakeholders. This feedback is directly incorporated in the development work. This makes it possible to better understand customer requirements and minimize risks at an early stage.

This iterative, short-cycle approach has many advantages for manufacturing companies:

  • Meet customer needs in a volatile world with short-cycle, regular feedback from customers and stakeholders.
  • High effectiveness and increase of value through consistent prioritization.
  • Increased efficiency and lower project costs through focus and continuous improvement.
  • Shorter time-to-market and deadline reliability through team commitment and quick decisions.
  • High transparency through defined events, open information and more personal responsibility.
  • Increased employee satisfaction through more autonomy and trust and less control.

However, it is of little use to introduce agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban without changes in leadership, framework conditions and corporate culture, hoping that product development will benefit from the effects described here. Agility is more than just a modern project management method that is easy to adapt. The path to agile organization is a complex change initiative that affects the entire hierarchy, processes and the culture of a company. This task can only be accomplished by a structured approach: with an agile transformation. Our consultants have been helping customers from the traditional industries to advance agility step by step in their organization for years. Companies have to go through five stages and we provide professional support on the way through their transformation. In which stage of transformation are you currently?

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Step I: Creating Agile Awareness

Companies first have to create the basis for the use of agile methods. On the one hand, this concerns their rules and practices. On the other hand, leaders have to internalize and promote the principles and values underlying agility. This is the prerequisite to make use ofthe long-term benefits of agile development.

People relatively quickly understand how agile methods work. For that we offer customers from the classical industries a two-days basic training with focus on the potentials, values, success factors and practices of agile frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban.But It is more difficult to anchor an agile consciousness in the minds of all employees. This starts with the management: Self-organized, self-responsible teams, decentralized decision-making and empirical process control require the leadership behavior of a "Catalyst Leader" which creates the framework for successful agile team work.

In our experience, an agile transformation has to start in the top management. Therefore we offer other workshop formats for companies that have never worked agilely, to prepare for the introduction:

  • In our Agile Awareness Workshop, our consultants teach the principles of agile leadership and working methods – including their consequences. The participants thus get to know the most important fields of application and success factors and deal with the expectations that agility arouses in terms of cultural change and leadership behavior.
  • Our Agile Quick Check enables research and development professionals to consider the "maturity" of their organizational area and the expected effort for the introduction of agile methods.

It is important that the top management is aware of the necessary changes in management behavior as well as the expected cultural change and consciously decides for agility. Otherwise, you're raising expectations with your employees that you don't meet later. Then, the disappointment is huge and the agile transformation won’t be successful for a long time. More about this section can be found here: Creating Agile Consciousness.

Practical tip: Get your team on board

To make agility sustainable, a lot of persuasive work is required. Teach managers and employees as early as possible about the added value of the change. Take concerns (e.B. regarding the emerging transparency and loss of control) serious. Personal conversations, trainings and workshops will help you to prepare your team for the new way of working.

Step 2: Deploy agile transformation team

Agile transformation is a complex process of change with numerous challenges. Perhaps the greatest is to harmonize one's own corporate culture with agile values and principles. Here, decision-makers often encounter resistances that make it difficult to implement agile methods.

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In this task, we rely in customer projects on the formation of transformation teams that identify cultural differences. The values and images of the executives have to be reviewed. In addition, the transformation team creates the necessary framework conditions for successful agile work: it is responsible for the development of a company-specific agile framework as well as the internal communication of changes and successes.

By building a transformation team, our consultants create the organizational basis for agility in your company.

For more information on this section, click here : Using Agile Transformation Team.

Practical tip: Find your own way

Your transformation team does not have to dogmatically implement the theoretical requirements of the agile frameworks. Of course, it must make use of the essential elements and ensure a common understanding and language. In some places, however, it is quite possible to adapt practices to one's own circumstances. We are are looking forward to help you adapting your agile framework to your requirements.

Step 3: Gain Agile Experience

We recommend to test agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban first in pilot projects or selected development areas. With this you can make sure that you can enjoy the expected benefit. Besides you will also gain your first experience with agile leadership and working methods.

In recent years, our consultants have accompanied more than 200 agile pilot projects in the manufacturing industry and the development of mechatronic products (e.g. a leading supplier of pumps, fittings and related services). We support you in selecting the right projects, qualifying your teams and creating framework conditions that make efficient agile work possible.

In addition, we accompany you during the first sprints and ensure with targeted change management that the agile mindset in the project is lived by all stakeholders. This creates all the prerequisites for a successful pilot project.

Our LEGO workshops are an exciting way to get to know agility. The workshop comprises the principles of scaling frameworks such as Scaled SCRUM. In a "Team of Teams" participants develop a remote-controlled LEGO-eCar within four hours. They experience the advantages of the method and can transfer their experiences to real situations in their working environment. Prior knowledge is not required. More about this section can be found here : Agile Experience.

Practical tip: Choose the right pilot project

When selecting your pilot project, you need to consider a number of critical success factors: the voluntary nature of the team, medium to high project complexity, a decision-making product owner, a manageable number of external interfaces of the development team, the size of the team, co-working physically close to each other and the support of the stakeholders.

Step 4: Expand Agility

If the pilot project is successful, most companies decide to expand agile leadership and working methods. They use Scrum and Kanban in further development projects and begin to make entire value streams agile. However, you have limits: Scrum and Kanban are not designed to carry out large, complex projects with multiple teams.

For this reason, new agile scaling frameworks have emerged in recent years, with which a larger number of teams can work together agilely on a product, portfolio or value stream. These include:

  • prescriptive approaches such as SAFe®, which provide a fixed framework for the implementation process, as well as the roles, events, artifacts and complementary methods themselves, and
  • descriptive approaches such as Scrum@Scale®, LeSS®, NEXUS® or the Spotify model that focus more on a principled solution finding based on provided modules and practices.

Agile scaling frameworks are also useful for developing mechatronic products. However, they place higher demands on leadership, system thinking (organizational and product level), integration capacity and cooperation. Our consultants have developed solutions that allow us to adapt and implement agile scaling frameworks in a structured way in product development. At the latest when you introduce an agile scaling, we set up a change team and design the consulting project agile together with you. For more on this section, click here: Expanding Agility.

Practice tip: Do not scale immediately

Implementing an agile scaling framework is inherently more complex than introducing Scrum or Kanban. These also serve as frameworks for each development team in scaling . This means that if your organization doesn't already master Scrum and Kanban for individual teams, you'll experience additional scale challenges. Hence, don't take the second step before the first!

Step 5: Anchoring Agility organizationally

If you want to implement agility on a large scale in product development, but also in other areas of your organization, you need to be systematic. In our experience, the further agile transformation of a company has five dimensions that are important for the long-term success of the change initiative:

  • Agility requires a changed leadership culture with a high share of "Catalyst" leadership to promote ownership, self-organization and commitment.
  • Agility requires adaptation of your organization. In the agile parts of your organization, you will separate responsibility for product, technology, organization performance, and disciplinary leadership. Disciplinary span of management will increase.
  • In most cases, companies in the manufacturing industry have highly specialized disciplines and a high workload. The truly interdisciplinary application of agile working methods therefore provides further challenges. This requires dedicated solutions for an agile matrix organization.
  • Agile working on a large scale requires new processes and tools of HR management for performance assessment, remuneration and career paths.
  • Accompanying change management must ensure from the beginning that there is a clear vision, that the framework conditions for successful agile work are created and that cultural change succeeds. Only in this way the intrinsic motivation – which already exists for most knowledge workers – can develop to the benefit of the organization.

Agile transformation is a complex process of change. And agile approaches are better suited for complex tasks than traditional project management. To ensure that customers from traditional industries benefit from these advantages, we always carry out an agile transformation in an agile way. Pleasant side effect: Your "change managers" learn and experience agility first-hand – with all the advantages and challenges. These experiences make it easier to help managers and employees change. More about this section can be found here: Anchoring Agility organizationally.

Practical tip: Create meaning and orientation

At the beginning, you need a clear vision for the agile transformation and the resulting agile corporate area. All stakeholders and employees involved can orientate themselves on this "transformation vision". If, for example the question of the "why" arises in critical situations, a well-thought-out, formulated vision helps to get employees and teams back on track.

We accompany you in your agile transformation

When applying agile leadership and working methods in the development of physical products comanies are faced to special challenges. In recent years, our consultants have acquired the necessary tools for this, whether as a line manager in global corporations or as consultants in agile customer projects. This enables us to support companies from the manufacturing industry in all areas of agile transformation:

  • In our Awareness Sessions, executives acquire the agile basics. You get to know agility in all facets, receive support for the persuasion work in the company and can consciously decide for or against an agile transformation.
  • Together with you, we develop entry-level scenarios on the basis of which the selection of suitable pilot projects takes place. You will experience agility in the areas that make the most sense to you.
  • Team and stakeholder training prepare employees for the implementation of the pilot project. Your team makes themselves familiar with the principles and practices of agile working methods.
  • In building your transformation team, we help you to give the transformation a clear orientation with a vision, to plan the agile transformation agilely and to translate it into iterations. If necessary, we accompany your team at all stages of the transformation process.
  • We support you with our experience and industry expertise in the preparation of your pilot project. Together with you, we master the special challenges of agile development of mechatronic products. During the implementation, we support you as Agile Coaches.
  • Use scaled agile frameworks to take advantage of agility in large development projects. Our consultants are trained in the implementation of multiple scaled frameworks. For example almost all of our consultants are beside others SAFe Program Consultants (SPC).
  • With the design of an agile organizational structure in a company of the manufacturing industry, you are largely breaking new ground. We have developed our own specific solution concepts from our experience and additionally have many years of experience in organizational change in companies.

All these steps are always associated with a detailed change management process. From our point of view, this is the most important success factor in order to establish agile transformations sustainably in an organization. The key in this case is targeted measures, which we adapt individually to your company situation and culture. Through this work for change, we are creating the breeding ground for further development that is irreversibly good.

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Your benefits
  • You benefit from a high level of effectiveness and value increase, as you consistently prioritize product functions and tasks.
  • You increase your efficiency and reduce your project costs through focus and continuous improvement.
  • You can achieve a shorter time-to-market and faster adherence to deadlines through team commitment and faster decisions.
  • They create a high level of transparency through defined events, open information and more personal responsibility.
  • You achieve a higher level of employee satisfaction through self-organization and trust.