The Wind of Change or Why You Need to Build A Windmill...
Authors: Fred Ly, Bernhard Lichtinger, Melanie Flennert
The Wind of Change as the driver for our Agile Service Offerings
Working with a variety of clients in various industries on complex problems and in highly competitive business environments, we experience first-hand the pressures businesses are under to create value fast, to constantly adapt to change and to deliver top quality. Our way of addressing this urgency is to adopt an agile way of working and a set of principles and practices that are based on the concept of iterative and incremental development – with cross-team collaboration as the cornerstone. Our Agile Service Offerings support clients on their transformation journey, providing tailored coaching as well as bringing development and operations closer together.
We have established three dedicated Agile Service Offerings in line with our customers’ demands:
- Agile Consulting: Consulting with C-suite executives on the best approaches for scaling agile frameworks, creating a vision plan and executing an organization-wide agile transformation.
- Agile Coaching: Guiding individuals and teams on their journey towards an agile organization with tailored coaching and situation-driven hands-on actions.
- DevOps: Consulting with clients on the organizational and technical changes necessary to bring R&D and operations closer together.
Way of Working as Agile Service Offerings
Each of our Agile Service Offerings teams works on prioritized client requests. To ensure a holistic Agile Service Offering, we centralize our efforts and work across our offering teams to ensure cross-offering alignment, e.g., trainings, recruiting, tooling & methods, etc. To ensure synchronization and collaboration across teams and locations, we use collaboration tools like Jira and Confluence. Our regular cadenced team calls enable offering-teams to define, plan, refine, and review their work. Using events that follow the concepts of Scrum and scaling frameworks such as SAFe, we achieve a high level of both transparency and interaction across our different teams. Our regular face-to-face big room planning events and our central visualized task board ensure that we are always working towards a common mission, addressing dependencies and fostering cross-team collaboration. We do what we do the way we do it, because we value transparency, openness, flexibility and commitment - all agile values.
Building our windmill…
In response to the blowing winds of change, we are building flexible and adaptable windmills that allow us to create new value. Our transformation journey towards establishing new Agile Offerings and a cross-team structure took some time to ensure that the offering teams could find their own dedicated way of working. One of the biggest challenges to overcome was defining our product visions and common objectives. Within our work setting, every team member takes ownership and enjoys the freedom to work on topics that are relevant to the market and to our offerings' objectives.
…together as one team
It is important for our offering-teams to coordinate their work among different team members distributed across Germany and even other European countries. To work independently together, we have organized ourselves according to a synchronized cadence. Our regular meetings via Skype, e.g., sprint planning, sprint review, retrospectives etc., help us work together more closely. Capacity and time are crucial elements in our way of working, which is why we needed to establish the right mix of planning, working and reviewing sessions and optimize the outcome of our sprints.
In addition to these organizational constraints, the motivation and purpose of each individual had – and still has – a significant impact on the success of our offering teams. In the past, individuals tended to work mostly on topics they were familiar and comfortable with. In some cases, this enabled our teams to develop deep-rooted specialization and give our work a broad scope. We now have refined an environment in which we can work together on a backlog of projects with a general scope or focused on a particular service offering.
The Product Owners in our team collaborate with stakeholders and sponsors to prioritize projects in the backlog, which helps us to limit our work in progress to focused topics and to be more flexible and independent in choosing team members to work on these topics. From a team perspective, this structure allows us to leverage synergies and work together efficiently and effectively across our organization. For individual team members, it opens up opportunities to expand their expertise in different areas and to gain different perspectives on any given topic.
Agile is much more…
To us, Agile is much more than simply an approach to software development – it is mainly about driving value creation, adapting to change, increasing delivery speed and promoting high quality. Our journey to change our way of working and transform ourselves has only just begun and we are always aiming for more. So, what are our ambitions for the future?
- To inspire our clients with our way of working
- To contribute to the agile community
- To attract like-minded Agilists
Day by day, our task is to relentlessly improve not only our way of working but also our clients' way of working. We understand how difficult it is to enable and mobilize employees to build the right windmills. Achieving top performance takes time and, in our experience, having a common vision – and of course fun – at work is also essential.
Interested in more?
Are you also in the midst of a transformation journey like ours? Are you interested in finding out more? Let us learn from each other by exchanging and elaborating on our experiences, best practices and insights gained during this journey. Let us explore together and take the next steps in this incredibly exciting journey!