Agile teamwork at Vorwerk
Innovative products often emerge today as the result of modern, agile teamwork. Having originally evolved in the software industry, agile methods challenge the roles, processes and plans of classic project management. What’s new is that the values and shared responsibility are taking center stage. Ramazan Koca, agile coach in the Digital IT department in Corporate IT explains why this kind of teamwork is so special and how the agile principle is applied at Vorwerk.
As an agile coach I am part of the Digital IT department – with my core task being to facilitate and set up agile working methods. We are currently four agile coaches and see ourselves as part of the project team, in which we support our colleagues with the product definition, the requirements management and the application of their themes.
Our aim in all measures is to make the best use of the for us new methodology of agile product development. To do so, I advise management and colleagues in the definition of the new agile roles and run internal workshops about agile requirements in management as well as agile leadership.
I can outline the way we look at this at Vorwerk, as there are a number of different descriptions: Agile coaches should know their way around in the world of product development and project execution – preferably specifically oriented towards the branch and/or the products of the company.
Added to this is the knowledge relating to agile methodologies such as “Lean,” “Scrum” or “Kanban.” And if you also have a pragmatic work ethic and respect for your colleagues’ projects, you are well-suited to become an agile coach with us.
Most come to us with knowledge in the afore-mentioned areas. We offer training courses to colleagues who want to make progress as an agile coach, which enable them to initially become Scrum Masters, then moderators or mediators in an agile project team, then coaches for other Scrum Masters and ultimately coaches for agile project management.
The great advantage is that values play a crucial role in the process. If openness, transparency, focus and dedication are integral parts of our actions, it leads to more satisfied teams and better results. There is also the fact that products are developed on a more communal scale and responsibility is shared among everyone involved – this applies in particular to the teams in project management, product management and implementation.
Through workshops and meetings like Design Thinking that enable the discovery of compelling solutions, which customers can later apply in a creative and playful way. I also coach on the subject of so-called “refinements,” where the end-users’ requirements are questioned and thinking outside the box is cultivated.
In our change processes, we then need to find new avenues of cooperation and provide space for new ideas – whereby space must also be understood to signify time within this context.
I remind the team that you can have success both on a small scale and a large one. It is very important to agree upon and visualize small and ambitious goals in the team because by doing so, we can see what we have achieved and identified ourselves with our work and the results. To this end, we set ourselves objectives both on a monthly and a quarterly basis.
“Musing” together, thinking aloud together, visualizing together.
When values like transparency, dedication and respect are not lived by, or when we are multitasking so much that it becomes harmful. When we are working on two to three different activities, our effectiveness already drops by 50 per cent. If a person is working on five or more topics at the same time, he or she is only working at 30 per cent effectiveness. Therefore it is important to make sure that the colleagues can remain focused.
Failing and mistakes are part of life. It’s more important to speak about a “culture of learning” than a “culture of mistakes” and to nurture a culture in which failure is permitted. We should also remember that failure, just like success, incorporates everyone in the company.
But our open, incremental and iterative approach resulting from the agile project management helps us to recognize mistakes faster and to learn from them.
Success means to achieve goals – already in the process. Because while we are implementing products, we are learning something new and achieving a lot – which the customer may not see, but which help us to make progress. At the end of the day, we are successful if the customer chooses our products over those of the competition.
In my view, an idea becomes an innovation once we have ascertained that the idea is feasible and unique – only then can added value for our customers ultimately be generated.
In product management and product development, because these areas especially to stimulate the progress of companies and adopt new approaches. A key factor, however, is the company management, as it has to want agile teamwork and promote it. .
We need interdisciplinary teams with the necessary skills. This means that we combine all skills in the team that facilitate the process of solving a specific task. And very importantly: we need a culture of trust and confidence as well as the time and space, in which we can work.
Yes – to do better justice to the products’ increased complexity and diversity as well as the different business models, we require an agile approach.