Markus Weck-Bonetti: “Locking down Agile in hardware in lockdown”

The corona virus has virtually every organization scrambling to adapt: social distancing and other measures have an immense impact on everyone’s business and the way we work. We spoke with Markus Weck-Bonetti, principal consultant and Agile Coach at our German partner Co-Improve. He offers a glimpse into how the Agile mindset allows hardware organizations to work and communicate effectively in this difficult time.

 

Never too late to learn

“While I’ve been working in hardware development and consulting for over twenty-five years, I’ve only begun my journey into Agility around four years ago. I attended the Scrum Master training, then in short order received my first order to help an organization move away from the traditional waterfall model for product development. It’s a great framework that leaves a lot of room for personal freedom and creativity to solve problems and finish tasks.

I was over sixty years old when I began to use Agile, and “Some people think of Agile as just a product to help overcome ‘problems with communication in elderly organizations’. Just a tool to get rid of waste and save time. It’s more than that though. I’ve come to learn that Agile thinking can’t just be learned, it has to be ‘inhaled,’ made a part of your thinking and mindset.”

A typical Agile transformation…

“I’ve recently been working with a large firm that builds things like forklifts and such. I’ve been teaching them Agile thinking and how to incorporate the Scrum cycle into their work. Some people were resistant, so set in their old ‘corporate’ thinking. One leader came to me saying, ‘This is impossible! I’m juggling thirty different projects. How do you make time for Agile thinking?’ I just told him, ‘try it out.’

He went into his team and eventually learned it’s easier to work smarter than harder, stay in contact and communicate to help one another with development problems. Four weeks later he came back to me admitting he had underestimated Agile.

Things were going well; everyone was well on their way to ‘inhaling’ Agility. Then the lockdown came.”

 

Hardware in lockdown

The team and I were used to having big, in-person meetings every two weeks to communicate on where and how to improve. Obviously, this was impossible now. We weren’t sure how to go on, really: how to communicate, how to work together, how to improve an organization if we can’t work in an office together. Applying the Agile mindset, we set up a virtual office – and pulled through.”

He continues: “We had to figure this out or we’d just have to stop working all together. But the experience has made the team’s communication skills stronger than ever! Everyone is now available for each other’s questions. Before, when someone was unavailable they were gone and the whole office had to wait for them. Now people are much more willing to reach out and contact someone who isn’t there because… it’s the only way they can work!”

 

Barriers broken

“I’m very happy with how far the team has come. Recently we had to stop all work for two weeks, and just recently picked up again. Everyone just jumped right back into their work as if no time had passed. I feel the lockdown has really forced everyone to enhance their Agile thinking. From the beginning the team knew Agile working meant being willing to try new things. This lockdown put them in a ‘sink or swim’ situation, where they’d either have to adapt to Agility or wouldn’t be able to work at all.

They learned to communicate better than ever, and it has shown them how they can work together to achieve results, get good ideas, and find solutions as a team. My only fear at this point is that they will go back to their old way of working after this. I couldn’t be prouder.”

 

A chance to “sink or swim”

If you’re finding that you or your organizing is struggling under the social distancing requirements, then this may be the time to start thinking Agile. Gladwell Academy currently offers a wide variety of Agile and SAFe courses remotely. While expert consultants are available at Co-Improve to offer their expertise on your hardware organizations during this lockdown.

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