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Scrum and Kanban have become an integral part of //SEIBERT/MEDIA. At //SEIBERT/MEDIA, our goal goes beyond just incorporating agile software development. We also want to incorporate agile methods of working and agile values in the entire organization.

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What is agile organization?

At //SEIBERT/MEDIA, we are not entirely sure what this means either. At the time of writing this document, this subject is new for us and for the entire industry. We call "agile organization" what we believe are the correct agile components.

Currently, //SEIBERT/MEDIA does not claim to have fully penetrated the subject in its depth and entirety and cannot accurately define it. We have too limited experience to do so.

By talking with other companies, however, we have realized we are nevertheless ahead of other companies in the implementation and process quality when it comes to the “life of the agile organization.” And it is this experience and these findings we would like to discuss here.

Nevertheless, here is an attempt at a definition:

An agile organization is the logical continuation of agile values from individual teams to the entire company and the promotion of independence, individual responsibility and participation while always staying focused on the customer’s needs.

Agile organization from the management's point of view

The agile organization is a holistic approach that has, in some cases fundamentally, changed the culture, organization and processes in our company. This requires courage from the directors, executive management and partners and the will to go out on a limb not knowing if you can go back.

As a manager, you have to stay in the background and let employees do what they believe is right. This is much harder than it sounds. After all, much of the world still believes in the necessity of an omnipotent patriarch who must take charge of his employees to make the company successful.

Why expand agile methods to the entire company?

Those who want to introduce Scrum in teams completely, correctly and comprehensively cannot get around establishing and really living an agile organization.

  • Self-organization within teams: more participation in company decisions, more room for creative ideas.
  • Rather than try to micromanage all processes, give employees the chance to make necessary decisions within due time
  • Participation, active involvement and being taken seriously: motivation and identification of employees
  • Make decisions where the best information is available
  • All employees are part of teams. No isolated workers
  • Holistic approach within the company
  • Communities of practice ensure exchange within the company
  • ...

Work methods and concepts of agile organization

Agile Org - participative change management within the company

  • Shared project across all teams for changing company processes 
  • Participants in the “Agile Org” project recruit themselves as part of their “slacktime” (20% of time). All activities performed during the sprint are considered slacktime. Employees decide how much they want to participate.
  • Everyone can submit a story: identification of the user stories for the “Agile Organization” project are organized and promoted by all employees
  • One manager acts as Scrum Master (Joachim Seibert for us)
  • Authorized representative as Product Owner (mostly remains in the background during prioritization)
  • Pre-prioritization of the stories via Dotmocracy
  • Sprint Planning I and II in one public meeting (prioritization of open stories, relative estimate for the story points within the team, joint task break-down)
  • Organization of the actual sprint on a public board in our kitchen (audio and video in kitchen)
  • Two times a week, a stand-up meeting is held in the kitchen. The continuously changing participants (due to the self-recruitment) are an interesting aspect. But compared with conventional Scrum projects with fixed team members, they also represent a great challenge. 
  • Breakfast from Bastians for all employees for reviewing a sprint from the “Agile Org" project
  • Discussion with all employees about the review results
  • Retrospective on the past sprint

Initially, we called the process “Transition process to an the agile organization.” Now, it is clear to us that this transition will never end.

Open Space

  • Open Space conferences: interactivity, communication, exchange, independent work (“non-conference”)
  • Conventional training: 50% gain from training and 50% gain from communicating with participants
  • The goal of the Open Space concept is to increase the share of communication to 100%
  • From strategy meeting in the “inner circle” to involving all employees
  • A common topic as the basic structure. Rooms and specific time slots are allotted
  • All employees are considered co-designers who can decide which subjects they want to discuss and how involved they want to get in various sessions. Everyone with a constructive suggestion can participate in the meeting
  • Goal: involve our employees in structuring daily processes and let them co-shape the company’s long-term strategy.
  • The Open Space concept – principles, rules, particularities

Periodic retrospectives in all areas

During the “Agile” consultation with our customers, we have noted that conducting retrospectives in Scrum teams is forgotten about quickly and pushed to the side. Retrospectives are not work on the actual project and rarely create noticeable results in the short-term. They often get “streamlined” away.

One goal for our “agile organization” process was to establish this important tool in all teams. Regardless of whether they use Scrum, Kanban or some type of organization similar to Water Scrum.

  • Our teams regularly conduct retrospectives in all company areas
  • Joint and open evaluation of team work
  • Search together for ways to improve team performance
  • All employees can offer praise, criticism, ideas and proposals 

Hackathons

  • Alternative to classic technology training and workshops
  • Platform for rapid prototyping, innovation and technology research
  • Employees complete a small project or small venture in one day
  • Practical and workable approach
  • Goal: evaluate new technologies and have fun

Slacktime

  • For most employees, 80% of work hours must be spent on productive work 
  • 20% of work hours can be spent working on your own ideas and interests to improve the company
  • Goal: employees should work on strategic goal because they believe in them and because they really want to 
  • Personal responsibility for using work hours meaningfully
  • Ideas for slacktime are developed together in Open Space conferences

Dotmocracy

  • Democratic form of decision-making within the company based on a point system
  • Evaluate ideas submitted by employees
  • Dotmocracy templates:
    • Describe the idea
    • Put the document up on the board for everyone to see
    • Everyone can evaluate the idea, express concerns and forecast prospects. Everyone participates in the company decision-making process

Agile Company Index

  • Internal equivalent to the business climate index
  • Employees are asked to submit their business-related expectations for the upcoming weeks. The results represent the indicator for the company’s prospects.
  • Whiteboard with magnets in the kitchen, transparent and accessible to all

Lean Start up

  • Concept by Eric Ries for product development in uncertain conditions
  • Currently, three employees are part of an internal Lean Start-up that functions completely independently 

Other elements

  • Stand-ups
  • Available budget for new procurements

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