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A successuf example


Like piloting a little steamboat through a big storm...

The business unit of a major automotive supplier generates upwards of a billion euros in turnover, but lately seems unable to apply its recipe for success...
Said unit is blighted by a series of problems affecting client relations and putting strain on all its teams. A kind of rigid micro-management has set in at every level and personal initiative is hampered by an avalanche of procedures.
Diagnostics tell us that self-management and responsibility, increasingly required to satisfy an ever more complex demand and growing need for innovation, have not been able to take hold in the unit, with its hazy vision and atmosphere of weakened confidence (the business unit’s strongly combustion engine-based products face down a long-term threat from new traction solutions).


Towards an agile transformation

First, we built a steadfast relationship with the head of the business unit. He was quick to understand that demanding more rigorous execution from his team has set a detrimental dynamic in motion.
The unit head is looking to enact a transformation combining operational excellence with the implementation of more efficient and autonomous teamwork.
We start off by working on Purpose and Trust with the management team. A new, richer and deeper dialog is opened up, allowing us to talk about concerns and possible fixes. Before long, consultants and managers see eye-to-eye.
We then start an implementation process with the management team, spending the bulk of our time with department heads (functions and plants). Within no more than two seminars, people start massively buying in and the purpose (Mission, Vision, Ambition) becomes more evident. We work on agility-promoting behaviors as well as concrete ways forward. A plan made up of several priority areas is drawn up (market acquisition, project culture, innovative portfolio, operational excellence, etc.).
 
A "world café" open to all main site employees gets the teams in the game and sets out firm action objectives within various strategic areas. Volunteer "plan ambassadors" are named. Over a series of workshops, the ambassadors define the precise content assigned to each working group (one to three per area) and pick leaders to guide employees through brainstorming.
A traditional steering committee is decided against in favor of "Sprint"-style implementation inspired by the scrum methodology, with regular "Dialog Workshops" in which local managers are encouraged to measure the agenda’s progress and collectively delineate their roles in implementation.


Agile results

"There’s something great happening, and we even have a hard time keeping up with the pace”! These are the words of the business unit manager who’s working on letting go, as is the management team.
Speedy headway is made and the ratio of new projects to quotes submitted increases. New ideas for product lines are formulated and pitched to customers, reassuring teams about the company's sustainability.
Strategic discussions about footprint and budget choices become collaborative, with a more evident purpose leading to buy-in and commitment.
Improvements in quality, especially in the early steps of new production processes, take a little longer to show up.  This shows us that the emphasis must be placed on the efficiency of the collaborative mode and on interdependence, which is what we are doing.
As it turns out, our storm-battered steamboat has turned into an agile sea vessel. Appointing segment and product managers makes it possible to assign total responsibility at the right level. This builds comradery between development and production teams and gives them much-needed impetus.
A second phase targeting cross-departmental agility and all-important people skills is in the works.
 
How about giving your team some much-needed impetus?
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