A guideline on how to engage a task force successfully

Deadlines and costs blowing the defined scope, and quality doesn’t match the defined specifics and requirements of the customer. The project scope seems unattainable. Transparency towards the overall project status and a coordinated approach? Negative! What sounds like the horror scenario of every project manager is pure reality in some projects. A lot of companies therefore use task forces to solve suddenly occurring problems. This guideline explains how to successfully deploy a task force.

Transparency towards the overall project status and a coordinated approach? Negative! Does this sound familiar to you?

A lot of companies therefore use task forces to solve suddenly occurring problems, avert predicted crises, manage through crises, or solve special topics with a high focus efficiently. Used correctly, a task force is not only a chance to solve short-term problems and crises, but can also lay down the basis towards an improved project management in the future.

When do I need a task force?

The need for a task force can occur through proactive and reactive triggers. Proactive triggers are special topics and predicted crises. Reactive triggers occur due to actual crises situations.

Four key factors are important for a powerful and successful task force:

  1. Create an independent task force project organization.
  2. Enable the task force with the necessary competencies & room for manoeuvre.
  3. Use a resilient task force manager with experience.
  4. Make a conscious staffing of the task force team.

Watch out for the risks when implementing a task force

The task force should solve their tasks specifically and efficiently. At the same time, the organization must ensure that the task force is not prevented (unintentionally) from completing their tasks and that new problems don’t occur.

Solution modules for a successful task force

  • Laying the basis for decisions and agreements with TRANSPARENCY
  • Create synchrony and structure trough COMMUNICATION
  • Provide stability and security through RHYTHM

Implemented in the right way, a task force can bring a significant boost for projects and organizations. Convert risks to chances and ensure a positive and sustainable change.

 

Martin Zöltsch

Expert in Task Force Management

Keep Distance – Stay Together: Maintain Virtual Team Cohesion with Empathetic Leadership and Targeted Methodology.

In the face of the “crisis without a blueprint”, employees are experiencing great insecurity not only in their private lives but also at work – “new work” is real from one day to the next. The people in a team are the ones who let employees go to work, even if it’s not so much fun at times. From one day to the next, you as a manager must be able to trust that team cohesion also functions virtually – for mental resilience in the team and for economic survival. Read in six sections how to maintain virtual team cohesion with empathic leadership and targeted methodology..

  • 100% virtual in a crisis situation – Why even power teams are at risk.
  • To achieve goals, you have to reach people.
  • The three dimensions that are decisive for virtual team cohesion when leading at a distance.
  • Use project management methods to show leadership and actively promote virtual team cohesion.Maintaining and building trust through transparency
  • Compensate missing, personal encounters through communication
  • Keeping the rhythm as good as possible (including an overview of formal and informal communication formats for online mapping and supplementing the otherwise offline formats)
  • Agile method example for strengthening virtual team cohesion
  • Professionalism meets humanity: Virtual cohesion extends beyond the team and beyond your own organisation.

Nicola Prinz

Learning & Development

How to Run Remote Workshops Successfully – A Guideline For Setup And Method Selection

The principle of networking is accelerating change in society. Information is available anywhere, anytime. Digital communication technologies are increasingly determining our working environments. Virtual teams are working from all different parts of the world. People have the freedom of choice – to meet up in person or virtually sitting in their home office. Megatrends such as globalization, digitization and mobilization are fundamentally changing our private and working lives. New solutions are required – for your own work and for virtual collaboration.

Use Cases

  1. Remote workshops with people or teams in the same organization
  2. Remote workshops with an open group of participants or with people or teams from different organizations

Which Methods and Approaches are Helpful for the Successful Implementation?

First of all: Everything you have learned about the design of workshops remains valid. Structured preparation and interactive implementation remain key enablers. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Communication Management Team (David Leu, david.leu@bu-st.de).

In our experience at [bu:st], four building blocks are crucial for a successful remote workshop:

A. Target
B. People
C. Process
D. Methods

We wish you much success with our tips for your remote workshops! Stay healthy!
If you have questions, we would love to help. We are happy to share our experience!

Michaela Golz

Expert in Organisationsentwicklung

12 steps to successfully manage your projects „remotely“ in crisis situations

An unexpected situation like the shutdown due to the corona virus (COVID-19) forces you and your project team to work 100% remotely. These three basic principles will help you now: Transparency, Communication and Rhythm. We have summarized in 12 steps how you can continue to manage your projects successfully, just now „remote“.

These three basic principles will help you now

Transparency

Helps you explore the situation.

Communication

Helps you to recognize and understand.

Rhythm

Creates structure and therefore safety.

In this manual we have summarized the 12 most important steps:

  1. Self-organization
  2. Ensure the communication skills of all project team members
  3. Conduct a kick-off meeting for „remote work“ with your project team
  4. Hold your first rule meeting with your project team
  5. Create checklist for all following virtual rule meetings
  6. Assign how each individual deals with assigned work packages
  7. Establish culture and atmosphere
  8. Determine the project controller’s special responsibility in the remote team
  9. Communicate
  10. Obtain communication and collaboration tools
  11. How do you delegate correctly?
  12. Are you an executive?

Many successfully implemented remote projects [bu:st] wishes you!

Torsten Graner

Corporate Communication

“Remote” is the magic word! – How to successfully manage projects from home office in times of Corona.

One of the central tasks in project management is to make complexity manageable. Transparency, communication and rhythm help to achieve this. And just when a virus seems to drive complexity into immeasurable proportions, these three basic steps are essential.

On the one hand, it may almost be desirable to be able to work from home. On the other hand, there are a number of challenges to be mastered in this setting, especially in project management. What is the point of a project if all project members – whether on the customer or service provider side – can only work together online?

Trust is good – transparency, communication and rhythm are better!

Fundamental trust is certainly a prerequisite for any kind of cooperation, whether online or offline. In online communication, there are other challenges in addition to the technical ones, which are less or not at all relevant in real life: 

  • Different levels of experience of participants: Participants with a lot of online experience meet employees who rarely attend online meetings. Don’t rely on the same level of experience in dealing with technology or online etiquette!
  • Limited or intensified acoustics: Participants must rely primarily on acoustics that are different online than offline. Noises that are less significant in a meeting room can be quite disturbing, e.g. coughing. Unfortunately, conversations of the participants that you want to hear are often hampered by insufficient technology.
  • Different expectations of the attendants: What is often annoying in offline meetings can lead to even more misunderstandings and frustration in the protection of the home office.

Meet these special challenges by creating security for collaboration through transparency, communication and rhythm. Regardless of whether you are dealing with classically managed projects or more agile project management, this triad does not mean a restriction in the scope of action, but rather meeting changes with a solid foundation on which to make decisions – even iterative ones.

What does that mean in detail – transparency, communication, rhythm?

Transparency helps in navigating the situation. To begin, break down the complexity. For an online meeting, as simple as it may sound, this means:

  • Before each online meeting, create an agenda with clear times and responsibilities for each item.
  • Keep the meeting on time so that the people involved can dial in and contribute according to the agenda. Appoint a time keeper, usually the moderator.
  • Document resolutions and make them available to all participants in the minutes afterwards.
  • Document tasks in a “List of Open Points”, agree on target dates and responsible persons in the meeting for each task. Distribute the tasks to the appropriate persons responsible in the follow-up.

Communication helps to understand and involve people in the success of the project. Providing the right information at the right time to the right group of people not only promotes the commitment of those involved, but also avoids expensive adjustments at crucial points and prevents follow-up costs. 

  • Do not skimp on suitable technology to ensure stable acoustics. Take your time to evaluate which software is best suited for you depending on whether you want to invest in a complete collaboration platform such as MS TEAMS or whether slimmer online meeting platforms such as TeamViewer are sufficient.
  • Establish rules of the game for communication and online etiquette:
    • The moderator introduces all online participants at the beginning, including those who may be sitting in the room with him/her.
    • Let the other participants finish speaking in the online meeting. Confusion Talking online is even worse than offline!
    • Set participants to mute (“mute”) their microphone when they are not speaking.
    • Make sure everyone turns on their camera during the meeting.
    • Discuss topics that only concern one person bilaterally, preferably over the phone afterwards.
    • Optional: set up a WhatsApp group to support social interaction within the team.

Rhythm creates structure and thus security. Man is a creature of habit, as the saying goes. Change means more energy expenditure for our brain! If online meetings become a recurring routine, we perceive them as an anchor in the uncertain project business.

  • Find a suitable rhythm for discussing the topics. If participants are increasingly absent from meetings, discuss the meeting schedule again. In agile settings, rely on daily calls. 
  • Do not sacrifice the credibility of the platform by badly planned agendas. Rhythm does not mean that everyone always has to come, only that the meeting takes place regularly. Invite only relevant people according to the agenda. 
  • Put topics on resubmission in your “List of Open Points”. A look at project schedules helps to identify these recurring topics.

We wish you much success with our tips for your online meetings! Stay healthy!

If you have questions, we would love to help. We are happy to share our experience!

Torsten Graner

Corporate Communication

Why agile excellence is not a question of methods and tools, but of the mindset.

Many of today’s companies follow a hierarchical organizational model that strictly separates tasks and departments from one another and arranges them in a pyramidal system: purchasing, development, controlling, HR, etc. This organizational design has produced a control mechanism that consists of two directions:The instruction flows top-down and the teams are controlled from bottom to top via reports and tracking. 

This model has proven itself for decades but is now undergoing a radical change across the board. More and more companies are introducing agile ways of working for a variety of reasons, although most of them initially only see the tip of the iceberg. Agile has become a trend. A trend that everyone believes to understand, but which only a few have fathomed out. And this is exactly where the problem is.

As so often, people only scratch the surface and in fact agile work is often equated with the introduction of dailies, KanBan boards, and sprints. So changing the processes, roles and tools and succumbs often leads to the misconception that agile working concepts have been implemented overnight. The Agile Manifesto already says that this cannot be it: Individuals and interactions OVER processes and tools. Methods and tools are certainly a large part of agilization, but simply using tools and methods does not make you agile per se – and this is the reason why agile work is often already  doomed from the beginning or is regarded as “buzzword”.

Tasks are still distributed horizontally and neither the mindset of the employees nor of the hierarchies has changed so far. And this is exactly the point.

But what does agile being mean?

Agile Being does not only result from techniques and methods, but rather from principles and values, such as transparency, high personal responsibility, commitment and trust.

It’s about culture and mindset. It’s about…

  • the transparency to show open capacities or how far you have got during a sprint – or not.
  • to take responsibility and the intrinsic motivation to work through topics or to take them up by your own initiative, without the assignment being made beforehand by a hierarchy.
  • Committing yourself to a task without any ifs and buts.
  • the trust in your employees on the management side that the way in which the issues are tackled is the right one. 
  • the trust in the team’s collective expertise without delivering a weekly report to the management level. 
  • The courage to be open and to really understand that incremental work is there to make mistakes (early). There is no point in living old practices and role models without adapting them to the new value stream.  
  • A new way of thinking, away from power and positions towards ambitions.

Successful leadership in VUCA world demands new leadership concepts. Decision-making competencies have to be shifted downwards and the stronger separation of professional and social leadership has to be enforced. The manager now acts rather as a coach, defines requirements and framework conditions and thus specifies a clear purpose, towards which the team can orient itself. However, the team itself will develop the way to achieve the goals and they can derive their actions from the purpose. 

It is important that the management level also understands that micro management has to be avoided and that they have to set an example of personal change in order to be able to implement sustainable agile transition. All in all, empathy, openness, intuition and the courage to be flexible are the prerequisites necessary to achieve real agile excellence.

All that glitters is not gold – at least if you limit yourself to agile methods and tools. In order to experience real agility, you have to dig deeper and constantly reflect and question yourself and your actions. An agile mindset cannot be established by force, but requires constant awareness of your own values and procedures. Only if this is understood, a self-organized, learning system can be eventually be developed. 

Martin Zöltsch

Expert in Task Force Management

Michaela Golz

Expert in Organisationsentwicklung

[bu:st] Campus 2019: Playful from Agile Doing to Agile Being

Over a hundred players in six groups, a two-day exploratory trip and several destinations: How can we develop further, how can we learn in a playful way and what can we give our customers in the process? On the two-day campus of [bu:st], the so-called Agile Dynamics Game was a game of strong tactics, dice, haggling, but also learning from colleagues and last but not least a lot of laughter. 

The [bu:st] Campus took place for the ninth time this year. 137 [bu:st] employees made their way to Bad Aibling at the beginning of July to spend two days in the hotel learning from and with colleagues and finding out how the consulting company can be even more agile and pass this expertise on to its customers.

“For us as an organization, the campus is a highlight of the year. It is a wonderful platform to exchange ideas, reflect and learn from each other across teams. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to deal intensively with new topics,” is how [bu:st] automotive managing director Bernhard Pollety describes the annual company event.

Before the participants took their seats at the gaming tables, they all first picked up their own workbooks on Agile Dynamics, slipped into the campus shirts and worked out their current challenges and customer projects in small groups, with movable walls and small presentations. 

Afterwards the pinboards were set up in circles and the teams split up: Part of the team was informed by the neighbours, the rest answered questions from the curious colleagues on the status of their internal and external projects, the cooperation with the customers but also where challenges still exist.

In a short presentation Bernhard Pollety and Sebastian Zölls, member of the management board, once again highlighted the challenges with the VUCA world and showed how [bu:st] can deal with these requirements: Above all with an agile and intelligent organisation.

Agility for [bu:st] is not equal to Scrum and is not intended to replace existing agility. Instead, methods from all systems – classic and agile – should be integrated intelligently, dynamically and flexibly. The Agile Dynamics Model, which [bu:st] developed in collaboration with five4sucess, reflects exactly this, as demonstrated by Zölls and Pollety.

Agile Dynamics concentrates on five memes that can be transferred to companies as management methods and tools:

  • In the red, directive, meme, it burns in the figurative sense at all corners and ends; the entire organization is in the “fire brigade mode”. Here, work is carried out in task force mode and the team is led in an authoritarian manner. [bu:st] can provide operational support here.
  • In the blue regulative meme, there is a pyramidal hierarchy. Thinking happens at the top, being executed at the bottom. For [bu:st] this means not only operational support but also organisational development and improvement of tools, processes and structures.
  • The innovative orange meme describes companies that strive for improvement, innovation and profit in their projects. For [bu:st], this means giving customers time for innovation and productivity and introducing lean principles, for example.
  • In the green, collective, meme, the organization is seen as a community or as a large family: The opinion and well-being of each individual is important, the hierarchies are flat. [bu:st] specialists can act and advise as Scrum Masters or agile coaches.
  • An organisation that knows and understands all memes can react yellow, flexible and dynamic to the VUCA world. The yellow, integrative, meme stands for open thinking and flexibility. Conflicts are seen as an opportunity, change is part of the organisation. [bu:st] analyses in which cultural pattern the customer finds himself and combines the suitable method from all memes individually, Zölls and Pollety describe the fifth meme.  (More information about Agile Dynamics can be found here)

According to the theory, the [bu:st]-employees were allowed to test the memes and the thoughts of Agile Dynamics on their own bodies – in the form of a game. “In the Agile Dynamics Game®, the aim is to learn how VUCA can be regarded as an opportunity through playful experiences, through success and failure,” was how Zölls described the goal of the game. The board game was developed by five4success and played for the first time in a large round. 

Mal in großer Runde gespielt. 

Without knowing exactly what will happen in the next few hours, the players took their seats at smaller tables in teams of four to five players. Several groups of players each formed a “game table”, which was accompanied by game leaders and employees of the non-profit organization Viva con Agua. In dice rounds, the clans first determined a leader. The clans then had to perform various tasks – partly against, partly with the other clans. The clans were tacted, haggled, bartered, traded, formed alliances and tricked. 

The game developers describe the idea behind the game as follows: “To recognize obstacles and blockades in complex working environments in good time and to create stability and performance co-creatively through simple interventions”.

After two eventful and exciting days, exactly that was achieved: communication, collaboration, learning – in other words, playing to recognize. “At first everyone thinks of the competition – but if we set ourselves goals together, we’d better get there,” was how one player described her experience. “The emotions are boiling up, the game is sweeping people away,” observed another player.

“With the Agile Dynamics Game® this year we had an extraordinary opportunity to experience the increasing complexity in today’s VUCA world and to explore possible answers in a playful way in the sense of Agile Dynamics”, Pollety sums up the campus with satisfaction.

Torsten Graner

Corporate Communication

The two loops of the [bu:st] process management method eyeLean

In this article we would like to introduce you to parts of the [bu:st] process management method eyeLean. The method has emerged from experience and has proven to help our client to view their situation from a new perspective and to lead the project to success.

That’s what the agile [bu: st] process management eyeLean stands for

When we decided to transform our approach into a written method, two things were quite modern: the term “lean” and the prefix “i”. With a little bit of self-irony we therefore internally named our method “iLean”. When our method was visually fixed, the picture of two loops, which have similarities with the pupil and the iris of an eye, resulted. From this moment on we decided to name the [bu:st] process management eyeLean. The sound remained the same, the spelling changed.

“The only person who behaves reasonable is my tailor. He takes a new measure each time he meets me, while everyone else always sets the old standards, hoping they still fit.”

George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist

Every customer is unique. His demands on agile process management are as well.

Part of our self-image as a premium consultant is to look at each customer individually and to deliver solutions that are not blindly applied to a seemingly familiar pattern. Rather, it is about understanding the customer and his challenges and adapting our standards to the specific situation. How many times have you been promised such a service? How often did you feel misunderstood after many years of investing time and money in a supposed to be appropriate solution? Would you spend so much money on a poorly tailored garment? So why are you doing it in the consultation?

Due to numerous positive feedback from our customers, we decided to open the gates and to give you an insight into our approach. We want to show you what sets us apart from other process management experts, and we are happy to share our knowledge with you to give you food for thought for your own project.

The [bu:st] process management method does not lay a template on a supposed pattern

In order for us to have the same understanding, one thing first: In our view, a method is not a rigid pattern that should be carried out blindly without reflecting on the situation. Rather, it is something structuring that helps us to do things in a meaningful order. This ensures that the work results complement each other to save valuable time and energy. There is no unnecessary sorting and structuring.

For us as process management experts, it is important to point out the difference between knowledge and understanding. It often seems that established knowledge and understanding of the topic are confused. Understanding does not mean finding information to accomplish a task. Rather, understanding is the art of seeing things in a new context, of abstracting them and adapting them flexibly to the circumstances.

First make yourself clear about the situation, then involve others

To build understanding, in the first loop we get a picture of the project and the company situation. Then we will discuss the topics with the customer in the second loop. Through this systematic separation, we build on an uninfluenced understanding, which is later compared with the customer´s vision. This gives us the opportunity to check whether we really understood the situation, the “language” and the challenges of the client and his project.

In the interest of the customer, the project conditions are always in focus. So we can match our results from the first loop with the image of the customer and show him a different perspective at the same time. By doing so, we help our customers to break out of their pattern and to successfully start the project.

That’s how you learn the difference between knowledge and understanding

A mechanism in our brain means that things that are understood cannot be forgotten. Once you really understand the meaning behind a method, it does not matter in which context you apply it. So it is not necessary to memorize individual steps in order to be able to work according to a certain method, since these steps are subconsciously derived once you have understood the method.

Although we individually adapt all of the steps to the situation, the strategy behind remains the same. Take the project schedule as an example. If you search the internet for the names of each phase of the project, you will find a variety of terms for the same phases, all of which claim to be the right ones. But once you understand how a project works, it does not matter if they are called “initialization” or “preparation” in the schedule. Once you understand what is important in the starting phase, you can overcome challenges and solve problems.

The inner loop of the [bu: st] process management method

Our agile process management method is based on running through two loops (one inner and one outer). Characteristic of the inner loop is that all steps are directed inwards, which means that this loop is initially only run by us as consultants. The customer will be involved at a later date. This allows the [bu:st] process management experts to get a realistic picture of the current situation and to create a possible target image.

Step 1: Create personal Gemba

The first step of our method begins with the personal Gemba. According to the Japanese word for “place of action”, this is about getting an idea of the production site and to get in contact with the industry, the company, the product and all other possible influencing factors (depending on access and access possibilities). We first assess the situation from a neutral perspective before exchanging ideas with the customer. The goal is to acquire the best possible prior knowledge.

Step 2: Explore the process map

In order to get a feeling for the customer’s processes, we familiarize ourselves with the existing process landscape and the organizational structure and compare them with our first own ideas. Here it is necessary to allow free thinking and to play with various possibilities. This is the only way to ensure that our input matches the given process structures and that the entire situation is optimized.

Step 3: Develop understanding for the future vision

This is the last step of the inner loop. At this point, we have already gathered a lot of information and, if possible, analyzed and evaluated without the influence of the customer. Now it is time to put this information on one side of the desk and the assignment to the opposite side. By comparing these data, a suitable picture of the future is created and put in the right focus. Are there any contradictions or concurrent information that stands in the way of success?

What should these examples show you and what can you learn from them? Get away from your daily routine by imagining that you are the consultant yourself and that you are in your company for the first time. What would you pay attention to, what questions would you ask? How does everything work on you? If you were to rebuild your business or project from scratch, how would you structure it? Would you have a solution that does not fit with your processes? Through these thought experiments, you create a mental model that you can work with. If you now ask all these questions and answer them for yourself, then in the first loop only one question remains: What is your picture of the future?

The outer loop of the [bu: st] process management method

After familiarizing ourselves with the realities, the outer loop is about involving the people in the project and sharing your experiences. Equal cooperation and an open, exploratory dialogue are the keys to successfully completing the following three steps.

Step 1: Know the process history

The best solution for one customer is not necessarily the best solution for another customer. So instead of imposing ready-made process reference models on your customers and fundamentally changing their processes, it is worthwhile taking a look at the old processes together. To do this, let’s first discuss the history of the current process world: which processes have existed in the past and why are they no longer available? Which attempts have failed? And why? Answers to these questions not only help the consultant to avoid past mistakes, it also helps those involved to reflect on the past. Through this approach, all participants are actively involved in the change process and the acceptance of changes increases.

Step 2: Create lean principles and analyze wastes

A mere check on the lean principles is not effective here. The [bu:st] process management experts are guided by their understanding and are able to abstract the classical methods of wasting. We create a table that contains the classic wastage types and write down in an extra column, what it means to the environment when we adjust them.

This table will be printed out for the next Gemba and filled in with the process participants. However, this conversation is not primarily about querying each type of waste, but rather about identifying the “pain” of all those involved. Our overall picture is complemented by the collection of all the wastes that appear in the process.

Step 3: Create a comprehensive Gemba

This step is different from the first Gemba in an important point: Now it is no longer about the image that we have made of the current situation as an external consultant, but about the actual commissioning and the framework that has been agreed with the client. Here we focus on the points that are relevant to reach the goal and need to be changed. This not only means being there, but also overseeing the operational activity related to the assignment.

In practice, unfortunately, we repeatedly observe that this step is completely misconceived by companies. Often there is a so-called “Gemba Walk”, which actually serves to look at the situation on the ground. In fact, the focus is only on printed slides on a pin board, while standing with the back to the production. The actual goal of the “walk” is missed. 

Practical tip: Turn around and stand with your back to the pin board. This allows consultants and management to concentrate on the essentials.

On a sheet of paper and a pencil, all anomalies should be noted and sketched. In brief and informal talks, further information is collected. A difference to the first (personal) Gemba is that the findings can be shown to customer on site. Depending on the prevailing corporate culture, this can be astoundingly eye-opening.

Avoid the mistakes of the past and reflect on why generally successful measures have not worked this time. When is the right time to try again? Do not rely on reports or numbers – the truth is out there, not what’s on a slide. And that’s exactly what needs to be communicated to those involved. Break down existing structures and look at what’s really going on in the project.

[bu:st] is your professional consulting for agile process management methods in Munich

The [bu:st] process management method is primarily designed to launch a customer project in a given situation. An already performed step does not mean that this step does not have to be repeated. Of course it is necessary to go through certain steps regularly or several times. We prefer to reduce the number of steps, but to carry them out in a demand-oriented cycle. The [bu:st] process management method eyeLean helps to sharpen the blurry vision and getting the best out of our customer.

Martin Zöltsch

Expert in Task Force Management

The Product Owner – Hidden Champion in the Scrum Team?

In agile product development, the product owner (PO) is one of the three key figures in the scrum team. He is responsible for the delivery of the product, ensures smooth process management with his methods and is supported in the development team by the scrum master. In contrast to the scrum master, the PO often stands in the background – also because of the supposed similarity to the role of the project leader. The project manager is responsible for achieving the project goals, while the product owner represents the interests of the customer as well as their requirements and expectations for the product.

[bu:st] defines: The 4 core elements of product success

The product owner is therefore responsible for stakeholder management and coordinates with the customer at regular intervals whether the product meets his expectations. This creates the basis of the product backlog that can be adapted continuously. In addition, the PO is the link between scrum team and internal interfaces, locating the agile working model and taking care of the communication. At [bu:st], the PO is also responsible for adhering to the agile roadmap to ensure a high product quality.

However, the product success and the return on investment (ROI) depend on many other PO skills and factors. We at [buːst] have identified the most important four core elements and discussed them in more detail below.

# 1: Keep an eye on the product vision

In the development process it can happen that the product vision gets out of focus. That is why it is important to keep an eye on the original objective and the product benefits. This can help to prevent ambiguity and to increase development efficiency. By taking into account the minimum viable product, the definition of deliverable increments sharpens the goal, leads to transparency and adaptability in order to save valuable development time and to protect the budget.

# 2: An agile mindset and hands-on mentality

In order to clarify the role model function of the PO, the [bu:st] scrum masters proactively request the PO´s agreement and commitment regarding the agile framework. This will set the course for successful product development and it will anchor and sharpen the team spirit. For [bu:st] it is especially important that the PO has a strong hands-on mentality and is always available to the scrum team.

# 3: The balance of compromise and assertiveness

The third core element is the balance between the mutual conveyance of interests, the capacity for finding a consensus and the assertiveness in the stakeholder environment. This makes decisions faster and the product development process gets more efficient. In addition, the communication and cooperation capability of the PO strengthens and promotes the cooperation of all stakeholders, which also increases the product’s success.

# 4: A comprehensive systematic thinking and result orientation

The product owner has a strong awareness of networking and interactions within the organization and uses this to avoid friction. In addition, the agile coaches of [bu:st] ensure that agility is integrated into company processes and interfaces, as this is the only way to visualize communication and escalation routes in a result-oriented way.

Curious about more? Our [bu:st] experts for supplier and automotive project management in Munich will be happy to provide further insights into agile product development. Feel free to contact us!

Jacqueline Heim

Expert in agilem Projektmanagement

Impressions of the Rethinking Work & Learning Conference

At the beginning of April 2019 we invited together with our partner Celemi to the 1st Rethink Work & Learning Conference. Approximately 70 participants accepted this invitation – mostly decision-makers from large and medium-sized companies from all sectors in Germany.

Bernhard Pollety, CEO [bu:st] automotive, opened the conference with a short opener on the topic. “Today, networks are at the centre with the defining ideal of cooperation. If you make use of the possibilities offered by networks, a completely different way of working and learning is possible these days”. This makes New Work & Continuous Learning a game changer that makes it possible to interpret VUCA in a completely different way.

In her lecture “Rethinking Transformation” Karin Maria Schertler dealt with the question of why. She decides on motivation. The why is what connects each one of us with his job, his profession, his vocation. She also quoted the philosopher and founder of the “New Work” movement Frithjof H. Bergmann: “Do we know what we really, really want? In which world do we – really – want to live?” Transformation requires strong personalities and “also hurts,” says Schertler. Ultimately, transformation requires a reversal of one’s own thinking.

Dr. Deborah Schnabel gave us the opportunity to participate in her refreshing lecture “With Startup Spirit to Educational Innovations” in numerous creative, entrepreneurial and agile approaches to learning. The focus was on the “Creative learning space”, which enables innovative learning tailored to the individual. Creative problem-solving skills, a spirit of innovation, team skills, diversity competence and a digital mindset will be the key to success in the working world of tomorrow.

In his contribution “Serious Boardgame or 3D Learning? An inspiring pilot.” Francisco Ramon Pelzing deals with the question of how 3D simulations can be used to organize business games in virtual spaces. With vivid practical examples it became very clear why 3D Learning is on the way to the “Next Big Thing”. It offers social opportunities and teamwork, it enables learning through practice, it simulates reality and promotes experience without the effects of mistakes and it supports employees in agile working methods. By the way, Pelzing says, “it’s fun too!

In his keynote speech, Norbert Leifeld presented the “Balanced Learning Model (BLM)”, in which four aspects are of importance. Relevance of the learning content, in line with the employee’s level of development, geared to his or her learning goals with actively supported transfer of theory into practice – from knowledge to ability. These aspects must be balanced and geared to improving performance. The model tested at [bu:st] in practice visualizes the factors that are decisive not only for training effective managers in our training program, but also for developing people into leaders.

Like a kind of Nordstern, the BLM helps to check the effectiveness of training courses or why individual qualification measures have not brought the desired success to employees. The focus on performance is very honest and may seem controversial, but the interaction with the search for personal purpose is a matter of opinion.

And finally Sabine Kluge took us into the working world of tomorrow and developed together with the audience the four key qualifications for a complex working world: entrepreneurship, making decisions, networking and filtering & focusing. The employee’s path and individual development can only be achieved through self-reflection, learning in a team and a shared vision.

In addition to the keynotes, the conference topics had the opportunity to participate in Celemi business games. There were four different simulation games to choose from. Claudia Schmitz used Celemi Decision Base to strengthen the decision-making authority in the VUCA world. Five teams invested their budgets in new markets and product development to win customers in a highly competitive market.

Diane Van den Berge focused on entrepreneurship: “Through Celemi Apples & Oranges, employees understand financial flows and their role in them. Only then will employees be able to make good business decisions.

How do we attract the right employees and retain them for the long term? Celemi Tango, moderated by Tore Byström, dealt with this question. The simulation game simulates a project-based and knowledge-intensive company, where participants align strategic HR management with an overall corporate strategy.

Henrik Olofsson presented the latest simulation game – Celemi Agile. In the digital training, participants are guided in groups through the dilemma of a project, where they choose between alternative actions. Direct feedback shows how agile the group was. Through discussions in the group, the digital simulation becomes interactive.

In conclusion: an all-round successful event!

Participant votes:

– „Great event – great organization!“
– „Please invite me to your next event again.“
– „You have a really nice office – very inspiring working environment. I would like to do a workshop here.“
– „This keynote just made me think a lot..“
– „I found this event highly engaging and inspiring. The event concept was smart, combining interesting speeches with interactive business simulations in a beautiful coworking atmosphere. I’d love to join again next time“

Keynotes to Download:

– [bu:st] Opener (Bernhard Pollety)
– Rethinking Transformation (Karin Maria Schertler)
– Mit Startup-Spirit zu Bildungsinnovationen (Dr. Deborah Schnabel)
– BLM – Balanced Learning Model (Norbert Leifeld)
– Serious Boardgame or 3D Learning? An inspiring pilot! (Francisco Ramon Pelzing)
– Sabine Kluge has spoken freely and without slides.

Torsten Graner

Corporate Communication

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