Are you agile enough?

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?

Tech skills or cultural fit? What matters when we recruit at Mercedes-Benz.io!

Last week, I was invited as a speaker for the Recruit Better community to talk about how leadership impacts corporate recruiting processes. The meet-up was mainly attended by recruiters who came to get inspired by current best practices. After the conference I started thinking, if other recruiters can get these insights- why shouldn’t our applicants?

During the past 2 years we recruited 100+ new people only in Lisbon. Our retention rate is over 98% and we went from hiring 2 types of profiles to more than 20.

So, if you are interested in applying to Mercedes-benz.io, here’s what you should know:

It was very clear from the beginning that for the Lisbon Hub to be successful we had to recruit the best people we could find. So we defined 3 key areas that candidates need to fulfill to be able to join us:

  1. Current skill knowledge: we want to know if you know specific topics based on your experience. These are the typical hard skills we ask for in our vacancies and we try to find out how far you are developed on these must-haves.
  2. Capacity to learn: if you want to work at Mercedes-Benz.io you have to be ready to get into new tools, processes, organizational structures in an always changing environment. The automotive industry is undergoing a massive change and so is the IT- counterpart of it. Working here means you value change instead of fearing it.
  3. Cultural fit: last but not least- at Mercedes-Benz.io we are a unified tribe- ready to stand up for each other at any time. We are team players, we listen to each others ideas and opinions, appreciate feedback and live for an open environment of exchange and improvement. If you consider yourself a lone wolf- you won’t like it here.

Now the first interviews clearly have a technical focus and our technical experts are the best people to execute and evaluate them. The last interview is called the “Culture Fit” and I always try to participate at these, making sure we keep our healthy and inspiring culture.

When you come to your final interview we care the most about how comfortable you feel in your potential new environment. You get to see the office, that somehow reflects the culture- you will understand that this is not an ordinary company and that something special is going on. When we talk we have a casual conversation where we want to get to know you, hear you out, but also tell you something about our vision and expectations (side note: we always give feedback on the phone after our interviews, even to the candidates that didn’t make it).

To finally answer the original question (and the title of this post): you can’t choose between culture fit and tech skills. You have to have both. This may sound tough to say, because it implies rejecting a lot more people and taking longer to recruit each job opening, but the benefit is unbeatable: at Mercedes-Benz.io we are a unified tribe with a powerful spirit that puts their heart and soul into creating experiences that we are proud of and we love to meet more people like us.

New year – even better us!

On Monday we had our Kick-Off for 2019. Our Managing Director Sophie Seiwald shared the results from our bi-annual shareholder meeting and gave us a taste of what this year will have in store for us:

We are currently almost 250 employees and looking forward to hiring over 100 more amazing colleagues this year. We will especially focus on talents who are passionate about our company and the technological trends on the market. Starting from #artificalintelligence, #datascience, and #cloud to the inspirational #productowners and #designers, we have many new things in place to make Mercedes-Benz the digital champion of the automotive industry.

With recruiting goals like these, our teams in Berlin and Lisbon are going to need more space and will move into bigger offices. In Lisbon the office at the Hub Criativo Beato will be ready for us by the end of this summer. In Berlin we will announce the location of our new home soon.

We were also introduced to a new process of people development. With flat hierarchies and a role based organizational structure we developed our own process of employee evaluation. Our new performance, development and salary process grants a transparent and equal evaluation process for every employee and will point towards growth in your functional expertise rather than management career.

All in all, our goal for 2019 is to:

TEAM UP –  GROW UP – MOVE UP!

Welcome to café.io – our corporate blogging lounge

At Mercedes-Benz.io we are always asking about the why and the purpose. So here we go, launching a corporate blog in which we want to introduce ourselves to you.

“Why cafe.io?”

At MB.io we are one funky bunch of coffee lovers. This is why the café at our location in Stuttgart is the main meeting point for our social happenings. It’s where we get-together not only for coffee or quick chats, but also to host meet-ups or enjoy a good afterwork-beer on Fridays. It’s our room for inspiration and exchange and that’s exactly why we named our new corporate blog after one of our most beloved places and use it as a platform to share our insights and experiences with our readers. You are now invited to grab your coffee and enjoy a big sip of MB.io’s digital world.

“Why a corporate blog?”

We all share the accountability to be transparent and communicative and there is a lot going on at MB.io. A lot more than one could fit into 140 characters: we attend internal and external trainings, we experiment within products, trends and our organizational structure. We have a role-based system, meaning that a person could be assigned multiple interdisciplinary roles. We have a variety of views, opinions and mindsets that we want to communicate on café.io. To add a little cherry on top, we would love to see our readers be inspired by the MB.io way of doing stuff.

via GIPHY

“Why should I stay tuned?”

In the following months we will reveal three categories:

explore.io will provide information about the company profile. We will talk about our rather unusual and innovative organizational structure and how we are striving to become a top new work employer.

exchange.io will become our way of communicating our opinions and thoughts on certain topics with the invitation to join a discussion and to give impulses to our readers.

experience.io will be the platform where employees can share their experiences on events they attended, tools they tried out, or simply tell their very own MB.io-story.

In that matter: welcome to café.io – nice to e-meet you!