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Agile Working – Is that Something for Your Company, too?

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Published:
November 2, 2020
Reading Time:
5 minutes

Right now agile methods in various variants are used all over the world to manage complex projects and companies. Agile working, also called spotify model, describes a modern working method, which will be explained in detail in this article.

An important advantage for this working method is its flexibility – there are no rigid structures that only look like that because they have existed for years. This makes it easier to react to varying conditions.

First of all, the model consists of different work units: one of them is the so-called squads – the smallest organizational units. Squads are agile teams that develop and bring together individual functions of the product. These are loose groups that have a specific purpose and work agilely. The squads can be created according to industries, customers, products, functions or divisions.

Here experts from the most diverse specialist areas cooperate: Developers, designers and programmers work together on a project, precisely because they view challenges from different perspectives, and constantly exchange ideas and learn from each other. Each squad has a chosen Squadlead that represents the interests of the team only.

“Agile … is an attitude, not a technique with boundaries. An attitude has no boundaries, so we wouldn’t ask ‘can I use agile here’, but rather ‘how would I act in the agile way here?’ or ‘how agile can we be, here?’” - Alistair Cockburn

The individual squads, in turn, are assigned to a tribe and grouped into it. Tribes are superordinate units, which arise thematically. In the Tribes there are chapters which are recruited from the people who are in the Squads and Tribes and who have the same profession. The division into chapters is made by a specific subject, all of them with a special field. Those with the same specialty belong to a chapter, but not to a squad. As far as the leader is concerned, the chapter lead remains the same while the squad can be changed. Also, there are so-called guilds. This is a voluntary community. It promotes the professional exchange of its members, which is expressed in regular meetings and joint mailing lists. However, these individual units can also be applied to smaller companies and can then simply consist of squads with fewer employees. So it is not those who already have the same knowledge and skills who are involved in a project, but employees with different backgrounds.

The most important aspects of agile work are autonomy and “the communication of why” by the manager – this gives the tasks of the employees a higher meaning. It is all about the interplay of content orientation and a strong goal.

The error culture of the model also plays an important role, because learning led to long-term success. A precise error analysis takes place according to the motto “Fix the process, not the product.”

Furthermore, experiments are also welcome, because it is always a matter of first formulating an assumption, expanding and measuring it and lastly adapting the procedure accordingly.

digitalization, Agile Working – Is that Something for Your Company, too?

Conclusion

In conclusion the main message is: to look beyond the end of one’s nose and constantly try out new things, as well as to trust employees with a great deal of responsibility. The management formulates rough main goals and no longer the approach to the problem. It no longer says “We have to cross the river. Build a bridge.” Instead, the agile model pronounces: “We have to cross the river. Find a solution.”

In this way, employees feel involved in the big picture, but are completely independent when it comes to implementation. Learning and fun are more important here than a sensible product extension. The corporate culture should be characterized above all by trust and common goals.

However, some may like to enjoy more freedom, while others feel overwhelmed by the lack of control. Problems may also arise when the conditions of Spotify are not transferable to your own company and the Spotify model only solves the problems of Spotify. In addition, even Spotify has changed the model in the meantime – you must always remain agile. Of course, you will never be able to simply copy a model, but certain impulses or ideas can be taken and implemented in your own organization.