Are you agile enough?

Sophie Seiwald May 29, 2019 explore.io
Sophie Seiwald

A couple of months back we had an intense strategy workshop with some of the folks in the company and we spent one whole afternoon discussing the ‚health‘ of all our products.

At the moment we run around 40 individual product teams with an average size of 8 – 10 people per team.

One of the key questions during this health check session was: ‚can we consider this team being agile?‘

On a side note – Mercedes-Benz.io’s company claim includes ‚driving digital future‘ – so this question should have been an easy one for all of us.

Our health check ended up in a huge discussion about what agility actually means to us and that ‚being agile‘ doesn’t just mean using ‚Scrum‘ or documenting work in self-proclaimed ‚agile software‘, like Jira and Confluence.

After that intense and very open discussion we tried to nail down our understanding of Mercedes-Benz.io being ‚agile‘ – so here we go with some of the basics:

1. Hypothesis-Driven: all arguments and ideas are valid until you can prove them wrong. ‚Please make the button blue so more people click on it‘ might be a valid hypothesis until proven the other way round. Therefore the availability of data and its usage in our day to day work should be a no-brainer for us.

2. Step by Step: why are we even considering ‚agility‘ as our desired ‚to-be’? Simple: because the paths we go down are not yet explored and before investing millions into an idea we try to go in cycles and phases to find out if we are on the right way. That’s the power of agility. Scrum, Kanban or Xtreme Programming: we actually don’t care in the end as long as the teams organize themselves so they can work together frictionlessly and output driven. We want them to create a safe zone where they are able to experiment and iterate and yes – even screw up once in a while.

Learning teams who work together and tackle a problem are the core of digital transformation – emotions included.

If ‚all lights are green‘ you don’t go fast enough… says a fierce tribe like Mercedes-Benz.io.

3. User-Centric : probably one of the most used and strongest claims in the world of digitization. Especially in a corporate context we often (really, really often) tend to design systems rather than experiences for customers. It is one of the most difficult tasks to shift perspectives from internal views to the real needs of a customer. I love hearing our product owners #challenge the status quo and re-think ideas and customers problems from the outside view.

Last but not least a well meant recommendation: ‚being agile’ seems to be the most desired outcome of any organization these days – but it means so much more than adding a Scrum Master (who previously was probably called ‚Project Manager‘) to a team. It requires an in-depth look into your organizations core.

Starting from processes over routines to people and culture. The journey towards agility will never be an easy one – but you can have people on board who believe in it and know how to take you on that journey.

ARE YOU AGILE ENOUGH?