Corona crisis as an accelerator: What will our work look like in 10 years?

Corona crisis as an accelerator: What will our work look like in 10 years?

In the current corona crisis, remote working or home office is proving to be an effective alternative to centralized office work. Digitisation is creating new opportunities, which are gradually making their way through companies under the pressure of crisis management. Many are still drawn back to the days of analog collaboration – to the office. But so far we have only added videoconferencing to the current working methods in our beloved offices with meetings, coffee kitchens, and e-mails. What will happen when we really start to get a grip on remote collaboration – in other words, digital collaboration?

The potential is huge, only a few people currently have an idea of where the journey for worldwide digital collaboration is really heading…

kyona Vision Story part 1: Collaboration where ever you want

What will our collaboration look like in 2030?

 

Anna and Jan live today in Greece in a penthouse of a vacation apartment complex on the Sami island.
They have access to the sea via a staircase carved into the rock and a wooden jetty in a small bay. Their apartment on the second floor offers a free view of the sea to the next island. A small village with a marina and easy shopping facilities is just under 3 km away.
Anna and Jan used to live in Frankfurt, in the middle of the city. But it has become too small, too expensive, and somehow strange to them.
Since both of their work is now 100% digital and remote, and their teams work internationally all over the world, there was no reason to stay in Germany and the big city because of the jobs.
They now live on their Greek island for rent and will move on if they don’t like living there any more.
After all, all they need to work is a good Internet connection and their notebooks, each with two large flat screens that fit into any standard suitcase.

Anna’s daily work routine is relaxed. She works for an international automotive supplier in production management. Her team plans and controls the production of a product line in 10 mainly automated plants in Europe, America and China as well as the 5 plants in ASEAN and India, which still have a lot of personnel and manual activities.

Jan, on the other hand, works as Change Manager for a medium-sized pump manufacturer and coordinates the worldwide corporate development of the group of companies set up as a “Worldwide One Team”.

While Anna goes down to the bathing area and enjoys her morning swim, Jan sits down at his desk in his home office and turns on his computer. The sun is already shining over the roof terrace into the apartment. Jan has used his smartphone app to pull out the bright awning and move the blinds of the shading system in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows of the apartment into a position that is comfortable for him. So he now has a cooling shade at his workplace.

His first glance after booting up the computer goes to his MyToDo board, which he always keeps open on one of his two screens. What’s up with him today? He sorts his task cards, re-prioritizes some things, and makes a digital note for each digital card on his personal board. What he intends to do today.
Next, he scrolls through his team’s activity stream and looks to see which of his colleagues has done the next step and contributed to the solution of the respective task. Then he quickly scrolls through the chat messages. Here he finds short messages about the task cards that in the opinion of his colleagues require his special attention.

Nowadays work is on cards and these are clearly displayed on boards. Collaboration has changed completely. Unlike 10 years ago, where all information were always exchanged between people as a principle since prehistoric times. Jan sometimes received more than 300 emails per day with hundreds of pieces of information, which he had to dig through. Fortunately, that is history. Today, communication is only about topics. Digital platform technology makes it possible.

Jan used to have to drive to his office at the Obertshausen plant near Frankfurt Main every morning and first coordinate his work with his boss. Then he would work his way through the mountain of emails and try to extract all the information relevant to his work. He wrote important things for him in his little black notebooks, from which he could always cross out what he had done, which gave him a good feeling of having done a lot during the day when everything was somehow crossed out in the evening.
Over the years, dozens of these handwritten scribble books have accumulated.
Most of his working day consisted of meetings with other colleagues, middle managers like him to discuss various topics. The purpose of these meetings was to supplement his collection of information on his important tasks in his small notebook. Ultimately, it was about knowing to whom he had to pass on or convey which information so that something in the company could move forward.

His work consisted of managing projects somewhere in the world to optimise business processes at his breadwinner’s sites, introduce new IT systems, build new plants in new countries, relocate and ramp up production, build new sales teams and acquire new customers. Globalisation turned the German medium-sized company into a worldwide operating group of companies. In the past, his company used to be rather casual, but today, well organised and fully digitalised, his company is the worldwide market leader in its niche. However, 10 years ago, this was quite different. The competitors were not sleeping even then. The competitive pressure triggered by globalization was enormous, prices under considerable pressure, his company was not really experienced in internationalization and not efficient. The topic of company development was rather left to the local managers in the national companies, which led to a very diverse structure in the company.

At some point, his bosses also noticed that the competitors were more innovative. Their products had better features, they inspired the customers more. In addition, they were significantly faster on the market with new products, sometimes one trade fair earlier. In other words, one year faster. That was probably the trigger for his company to think thoroughly about how to work together and this was called agile transformation back then.
Jan felt the biggest changes when his department was dissolved and everything was reorganised into teams. Since then, his team consists of 7 colleagues who are scattered around the world and work together exclusively remotely, i.e. via video conference and collaboration platform. The organisational form is called collaborative team organisation. Everything has been standardised. The many different IT systems at the various locations had to make way for a single SAP S/4 HANA system. This new real-time system was the entry into digitalisation & connectivity for his company group. Industry 4.0, full transparency across all company divisions worldwide and standardised business processes now allow everyone to work with everyone else worldwide. The database created by this type of collaboration now allows Big Data analysis and thus data-based decisions. Decentralised responsibility in a worldwide jointly developed framework and a worldwide “One Team Culture” have already been considerable progress.
Jan’s company has thus managed to catch up with the large IT groups in terms of efficiency and strategic orientation and has significantly improved its own position in the competition. Two-thirds of middle management was cut back at that time and for the most part, integrated into the teams. Whereas in the past they used to take on the managerial role of coordinating, synchronising, extinguishing fires, and driving things forward, today most of them work in teams and take cards with work and performing real tasks instead of dealing with information and positioning their departments in the hierarchical structure of the organisation.

Politics has declined significantly in the company and the efficiency of the organisation has again increased considerably. That’s pretty clear; as a result of the reorganisation, significantly more colleagues are now working on solving tasks instead of managing the solution of tasks. The new team organisation also allows for significantly more room for decision-making and a decentralised assumption of responsibility. With this new way of working, Jan’s group of companies suddenly turned from employees who used to be tied into hierarchies into a series of brain workers who are now working for their team with a commitment never seen before.

And with just the change in communication, there was already a considerable change. The driver for the entire business transformation was this one principle: communication-based on topics instead of people. This was carried forward like a monstrance in the digital transformation.
What seems so incredibly simple and logical to him today was a real caesura back then. Yes, work is on cards digitally on the collaboration platform. Teams work together with these cards and any communication, all work results and all aligned results from meetings go into these cards. So the team sorts all information on their topics together into these cards. This inevitably results in a solution for each topic to which everyone makes a contribution at any time just like that during the collaboration. No e-mails, no separate meeting minutes, no subsequent documentation, no small black notebook, nothing more. With this new form of collaboration and communication, work has become completely geographically independent, and international collaboration has become as effective without a lot of flying back and forth as if everyone were sitting in one office in one place. And that with over 4,500 employees. Actually, this could have been thought of earlier, not only because of the many travel costs and travel times that are now completely eliminated. Jan is convinced that the topic-related communication approach is the real reason for the new effectiveness of his group of companies.

The current lifestyle of Jan and Anna is based on these new principles of collaboration.
Jan’s daily work consists of a fixed meeting structure within sprints, in which he coordinates with his team colleagues, plans tasks, and also organises cross-team coordination. And everything is always in the cards so that everyone has immediate access to all the information needed for work.
How could one work differently in the past?

Jan makes himself a cappuccino at the coffee bar in the kitchen of the apartment. Living and dining areas are not separated. The bright large room with the wide windows facing the sea appears bright and friendly. At 8:00 a.m. Jan joins the team planning video conference like every other Monday. The others are already inside and his teammate Jame from Finland has already put the team board on the screen. From the backlog, a sort of project plan, they now drag their tasks onto the team kanban board and discuss who can do what with whom until when. The board fills with cards again. More cards are created, names for solution drivers and input providers are added. They discuss, laugh, work. Everyone sees the progress on his screen.
For Kazuto in Japan, it is already 20:00 in the evening. His working day is almost over. When Jan finishes his work tonight, Kazuto picks up the thread again right away. It’s all in the cards, around the clock…
The team is now going through the different projects and planning the two weeks of their sprint. After one hour everything is clear. Tomorrow morning at Jan’s time, there will be a 15-minute standup again via video conference, in which the team will briefly coordinate and discuss solution steps together. Friday in two weeks there will be a slightly longer meeting to discuss and celebrate the results of the past two weeks. The celebration is important! A short retrospective for improvements in collaboration will then conclude the work cycle. Jan likes this kind of collaboration. It allows him to constantly learn and develop in an intensive exchange of ideas and mutual support within the team. He supports his colleagues and receives support. Almost every day there are new insights that help everyone involved. His team is really cool! He has never seen some of his colleagues physically. However, since they are together via video conference almost every day, see each other and work together, they are all as familiar to him as if they were physically together on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Anna is back from her morning swim training and after a short shower, she also made herself a coffee. She prefers latte macchiato in the morning. The coffee bar delivers on-demand. Now she sits at her desk and turns on her computer. After a look at her team’s activity stream, she unplugs the monitor from her computer and takes it with her to the terrace as a tablet PC. Hooks are attached to the rafters of the penthouse apartment to which her hammock is attached. Anna lies down in the hammock, calls up her MyToDo board on the screen and, like Jan before, begins to sort her tasks and view her chat. She looks at what new entries her teammates have added to the cards overnight. She thinks about what to do, adds her own action points to the todo list, and thinks the day through. Then Anna looks at the production planning and goes through the alerts. Mmh, there are a lot of things to be agreed upon. There is still something going on…

Her first video conference starts at 9:00 am. She arrives at the meeting on time, greets her colleagues and the day can now really start for her.
At 11:00 a.m. Anna and Jan have a common appointment on their calendar every working day: breakfast. Anna prepares the coffee for them and Jan quickly bakes some croissants. He puts jam and Nutella on the table. A short time later they are sitting together on the terrace under the awning, looking out over the sea, enjoying the sunny day and their breakfast together.
At 12:00 noon the next video conferences start. For all meetings that are not conducted as a team directly on the team kanban board, both use the so-called Meeting Management in their collaboration platforms. An agile working environment, which is completely set up for topic-focused work, provides a meeting board for all cross-team coordination. On this board, the meeting agenda also consists of cards with tasks, open items, alerts, or change requests. At all times, work is done with and in cards. No work without cards. The gain in efficiency compared to the traditional way of working with e-mails and information exchange is enormous. Both can hardly imagine working in the old structures with long, unproductive meetings and the endless searches for information in emails, SharePoint, and teams group chats.

Jan’s computer still has a keyboard, but he hardly uses it anymore. Only sometimes, when he is deep inflow and working on his technical concepts, his thoughts flow through his fingers. Then he reaches for the keys. In his normal work, Jan also controls his computer with eye contact. When he wants to add another step to the solution in the digital map, he looks at the eye-catching button and taps his eyelids twice. He then speaks his text, which is immediately converted into a text message and also stored as a voice message in the card. If his computer does not understand something, he asks and makes suggestions.

Anna’s computer, on the other hand, no longer has a keyboard and is operated exclusively via touch screen, eye contact, and voice control. Anna likes to talk to her computer and her computer talks to her. In the dialog, both make rapid progress. One short message after the other moves into the cards with the tasks. Each piece of information is a further building block in the solution path. If Anna gets stuck in the formulation or makes mental leaps, the resulting text is immediately summarised and restructured.

The use of AI elements in collaboration, especially in meeting management, has significantly advanced remote collaboration. The meeting module of the collaboration platform listens to the conversations in the meeting and automatically composes meaningful text and voice modules for the solution path in the task card.
In between, Anna also works on spreadsheets that are integrated into the cards of the collaboration platform. Three of her colleagues are working in parallel on the sheet she is currently working on in other places. She can see it on her screen. A conversation with them for a quick alignment is always just a click away on the Video Channel button – in other words, just a twinkle in the eye.

It’s this jingling of her deep blue eyes in combination with her gorgeous smile that Jan finds so fascinating about Anna. But her computer is not interested in this at all. It only expects appropriate control commands to keep it going.

Between video conferences and working on cards, Jan goes swimming, and Anna takes a break in her hammock. In the evening they have an appointment with Carlos and Summer, who live in the penthouse next door and lead a similar life. The four of them walk along the beach road to the village in English conversation, enjoying fresh seafood and freshly caught fish with a good glass of wine in one of the many small restaurants along the marina. In the marina there is a lot of activity, many sailing crews are on their way, there is a lot to observe. Almost every evening there are interesting conversations with the sailors. The crews come from all over the world to this island paradise and bring their stories from work, leisure, and family with them. And almost always they are in a party mood. The local hosts are friendly and open-minded. The atmosphere is relaxed, that’s how you can live.

To be continued in part 2: Cross-Company Collaboration

About the Author:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:

Photo by Dillon Shook  3iPKIXVXv on unsplash.com

Cross Company Collaboration: Work without travel and without email

Cross Company Collaboration: Work without travel and without email

Remote collaboration with topic focussed communication is the future of collaboration, fully digitalised via collaboration platforms. The gain in efficiency is enormous. Digitised companies collaborate virtually across borders worldwide, as if all participants were sitting in one office. Business trips and e-mail are relics of the past.

In the first part of the kyona Vision Story, it was shown how work in companies will develop for all participants outside production and warehousing. Jan and Anna have adapted their lives to the new job opportunities and now live and work from Sami, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea.

Tonight they have an appointment with Carlos and Summer, who live a similar life to them. Their destination is the marina in the nearby village.

This part of the kyona Vision Story is about the future of cross-company collaboration. A lot will change here as well.

kyona Vision Story part 2: Cross Company Collaboration

Meet, align & work together

Carlos is Italian and grew up in Rome. Like Jan, he is a passionate yachtsman. The area in the Ionian Sea is actually too quiet for sportive sailing. But the surroundings are wonderful for living, working, and relaxing. For the weekend, Carlos and Jan have again booked a yacht with Scorpio Charter to enjoy the sun, wind, sea and their lives as four people will be sailing two days between the islands.

An online bank operating throughout Europe is Carlos’s employer. He deals with data and searches for patterns in the Big Data Pools of the Customer Movements department. Carlos and his team write algorithms that they run across the masses of data. They find out what their online customers might want next.

He and Summer met remotely at training for data analysts. Summer’s real name is Xiaolei Xu. But the Westerners can hardly pronounce her Chinese name. So she makes it easier for the long noses from the other side of the world and uses an English name.
Summer is a freelancer and works as a creative input provider in a marketing team of a Chinese online platform.
She comes from Shanghai and enjoys the tranquility and space offered by the exotic Greek islands. After Carlos and she had gotten closer during the training and he told her how he wanted to live, she spontaneously decided to join and give it a try. With her certified account on the collaboration platform and secure existence, she can settle anywhere in Europe from China. They found the penthouse next to Jan’s and Anna’s via Airbnb and so both of them spontaneously came here with their computer infrastructure via Rome and Preveza for a long summer to work and live.

Summer loves to lie in the shade of the sunshade and swim in the sea. But above all, the clean climate at the southern European sea makes her feel good. In Shanghai, air pollution has improved significantly in recent years, but the Chinese metropolitan areas still cannot be described as clean. Summer regulates her working hours in a way that suits her. Her team in China operates in a time zone that is very convenient for her, Summer starts work at 3:00 a.m. and has the afternoon and evening to herself.

The evening in the village gets a little longer again. At the neighboring table sits a mixed sailing crew from England, which is very talkative and funny. Now they drink Greek wine and talk about the future. Anna has a late video conference with colleagues from America and Canada. She unhooks, takes a few steps towards Marina, and logs into the conference via her smartphone. Together with this team, she wants to develop a creative idea that she spun with Summer today.
In the highly automated plant in Troy, Michigan, a new product for an American car manufacturer is currently being ramped up. Anna coordinates the ramp-up phase, the handover from the engineering team to the production coordination team. This meeting is a so-called Cross Team Alignment Meeting, which is held on a meeting board with topic cards as agenda items.

Irene from Montreal Canada is also in this Alignment Meeting. Anna would like to discuss the idea developed with Summer for the new product. For this purpose, Anna has created a topic card and moved it to the agenda of the meeting by clicking on it. Irene is in the picture. She has prepared herself for the meeting and has already heard all the important information in the agenda cards. She is enthusiastic about Anna and Summer’s idea. Summer can provide cool input and the two decide to start a cross-company collaboration for the next day. While Anna goes back to the restaurant with the others, Irene sets up a new meeting in the collaboration platform and puts the topic card she wants to go over with Summer tomorrow on the agenda. Then she sends a connection request to Summer’s collaboration platform.

With this connection, two different company platforms are connected via an alignment meeting. Each side can add cards from their collaboration to the agenda of such an alignment meeting.

The next day the meeting between Anna, Summer and Irene takes place. Summer and Anna have made themselves comfortable on Summer’s roof terrace. Both are looking at their screens opposite each other. Irene is connected from Montreal. They discuss how collaboration could look like, what Summer’s contribution would be, and also how the Chinese online platform, for which Summer mainly works, could be integrated here.

The results of their alignment are briefly summarised by the platform and integrated into the solution path to the task card in writing and by voice message. This enables Irene’s colleagues from the marketing team to continue working with this information immediately. Irene would like to release a budget for Summer and needs the approval of her team colleagues. This to-do is stored in the card and John from Plattsburgh USA is encouraged to come back here in his next alignment. In any case, Irene gives access to Summer on the to-do cards in the meeting agenda. This card now also appears on the board of Summer’s collaboration platform and both companies can now jointly contribute to the solution of the task card. Both systems synchronize the cards automatically. Summer now also takes the card directly to her MyToDo board and notes down what she would like to contribute next to the solution.

The cross-company collaboration for marketing is thus already in full swing – work, where ever you want…

To be continued in part 3: Collaboration in the Dynamic Supply Chain

About the Author:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:

Photo by Mikayla Mallek 3iT3dnmblGE on unsplash.com

The Next Silicon Valley is emerging in the Cloud – Collaboration in the Dynamic Supply Chain

The Next Silicon Valley is emerging in the Cloud – Collaboration in the Dynamic Supply Chain

Fully digitised companies cooperate worldwide in remote collaboration and form highly effective networks that cross-company and state borders, serving global markets faster, more innovatively, and more individually.

The first two parts of the kyona vision story showed how work will change in the next 10 years. Jan and Anna work from Sami, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, yet are fully integrated into the agile teams working together worldwide. Remote collaboration on digital platforms creates a working environment for unsurpassed efficiency in cross-regional and cross-company collaboration. Today, living and working are brought into harmony and not strictly separated from each other as was previously the case with the life-balance approach. You work from where you want to. Digitalisation makes it possible.

This also applies to Jan and Anna’s neighbors in the penthouses next door. Carlos and Summer have only come to the island paradise for this summer. Christian and Michelle Wagner live permanently on the island with their two children.

This part of the kyona Vision Story is about the impact of new concepts in worldwide cooperation. The next Silicon Valley will be emerging in the cloud – in the Dynamic Supply Chain.

kyona Vision Story Part 3: Cooperation in the Dynamic Supply Chain

Digital business – everything runs over platforms

Remote working in collaborative team organisations is the usual form of the business organisation today – 2030. In recent years, productions have been automated more and more, and fewer and fewer employees actually had to go to the plants. Teams set up worldwide are now the norm in the industry. Office space is saved, the majority of the brain workers now work from home.

Another large part of the brain workers has moved to where they like it. Remote working enables spatial freedom that can be used in many different ways. The decentralisation of cooperative work received a considerable boost after a new Covid-19 virus physically paralyzed the global economy a good 10 years ago. CoVid-23, three years later led to the breakthrough of remote working. Business trips, physical meetings anywhere in the world turned out to be inefficient and dangerous to health compared to well organised remote collaboration. Not to mention the enormous savings potential through the elimination of unproductive travel time and enormous costs for flights, hotels, and rental cars, etc. Much more aggressive than the 2019 virus, CoVid-23 forced the world back into the forced distance. However, some companies were better prepared than others from the 2020 experience. Many of those who hoped after Covid19 that it would be possible to return to the old order were swept off the market a few years later.

The new type of collaboration received a boost from a completely different direction from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who clearly rejected the then still common striving for “work-life balance” and marked it as the wrong path to take. His recipe for success for effective and healthy work is based on integrating work into private life – creating harmony between the two. He is convinced that the pursuit of work-life balance is paralysing, as it implies an energy-sapping strict separation between work and leisure. Thus work becomes a sale of a lifetime to a company. The meaningful effect and the effect of a satisfying task on the whole life recedes into the background. At least for Knowledge Worker thus task areas, which have much to do with work at the computer, with EDP systems, etc., the trend triggered by Bezos has become generally accepted in the context of the increasing agilisation of the enterprises.

These three experiences led worldwide to a rethinking in organisational development and inspired remote collaboration as work and life concept.

In the course of these new insights, many fully digitalised large companies have built their own small business villages outside the increasingly expensive metropolitan areas in the sense of corporate social responsibility. Meaningful communities with a company headquarters in the middle and houses arranged in different settlements. The company’s own kindergartens and childcare facilities and meeting rooms integrated into the headquarters with playgrounds and barbecue areas professionally operated restaurants and bars, as well as 24/7 kiosks for the daily small needs of food and snacks, provide a feeling of security and safety.
Most workplaces are at home. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop connects some of these rural satellites with the big city centers of Berlin, Essen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich. A kind of magnetic levitation train, but in a vacuum tube underground, allows frictionless to travel at incredible speeds of almost 1,000 km/h. Please fasten your seat belts! The acceleration values are like those of modern electric sports cars, from 0 to 200 in 4.8 seconds. But that’s when the hyperloop really starts to accelerate. A great experience, but one that will eventually become routine.
Interestingly, the Hyperloops does not quite achieve the previously planned capacity utilization figures, as significantly more office workstations have been moved from the centers to the periphery than was assumed in the operators’ optimistic calculations. However, the concept of financing the considerable construction costs of the Hyperloops via rapidly rising land prices around the Hyperloop starting points has nevertheless been successful.

The family has become more important again after the social crises of recent years.
The new forms of collaboration now allow the meaningful combination of two working parents and intensive family life. And this works much better in the working and living environment provided by modern companies in rural areas, surrounded by nature and free space for the children than in the big city, which can be reached with the Hyperloop in 10 to 15 minutes anyway. The companies in the area support the surrounding schools and provide a good educational basis in the rural community, not only for the children of their employees. In this way, the companies, which are dependent on fellow thinkers with mathematical and scientific skills due to their high technology, create the necessary potential for new talent themselves.

However, by far not all companies and industries participated in this development. It was and is largely reserved for those organisations that were not immune to the last two industrial revolutions, digitisation, and connectivity, and were quick enough to build up the know-how to develop accordingly. The new effectiveness of collaboration creates competitive advantages and thus financial space, which in turn enables further innovative developments.

Unfortunately, Christian’s former company was not one of them. It stumbled in the 23 Corona wave. Although the employees had already dealt with agile working methods and digitalisation, top management did not follow suit. Up to 75% faster on the market, up to 75% improved quality, up to 50% increase in productivity, and up to 50% higher employee satisfaction, as Scaled Agile Inc. statistically proven by their project results, were of course also interesting for his former top management. But when things got tight with the agile way of working in the departments, the managers took bold action – as they called it – and fell back into old behavior patterns. In a crisis, a hard hand is important, as they said again in 2023. And suddenly Christian was on the street. A few unfavorable strategic rush jobs, demotivated employees, missing sales, high fixed costs, bankruptcy.

The tactics of the European governments to cushion the 2019 COVID catastrophe had already put a considerable strain on the state treasury. The results of the rescue packages and subsequent recovery program were not as satisfactory as expected and put a considerable strain on the euro. Everything was somehow patched on the edge and critical. In 2023, the economy then took a harder turn. State aid was scarcer because the euro was again in crisis. The effects of this renewed downturn were more powerful, as could be seen in Christian’s employers. But when looking at the situation more soberly, Christian has to admit that the economic crisis has only served to put his former employer out of business. However, working with agile collaboration in his department had already infected him back then. His conviction was solidified: This is the right way into the future.

Christian’s wife, Michelle, gave up her permanent job a few years earlier because they had two children together and joined the kyonauten, a dynamic supply chain platform, as a freelance graphic designer. On this digital platform, freelancers and small to medium-sized companies temporarily join together to form supply chains for a specific purpose and work together in a completely digitalised way.

In addition to placing individual orders, complete supply chains from the product idea to the sale in the online store are organised and dynamically processed on the platform.

For Michelle, the kyonauten community and the Dynamic Supply Chain during her childhood upbringing was initially just one way of staying flexibly connected to work. However, her business quickly grew into dimensions that allowed her independence and freedom combined with the upbringing of her children Clarissa and Jonte. Today she runs her online business from Sami, her small Greek island. Her children go to the Remote International School and, like the children in the village, have classes in the morning until the early afternoon – just online in front of the screen. Michelle also looks after them. In the afternoon, the two play soccer, burn ball, or Queimou, a Greek game of hide-and-seek, with the children in the village. In time, they have learned enough Greek to get along with their little friends from the village.

The four of them live as a family in the third penthouse in the series, right next to Jan & Anna and Carlos & Summer. In contrast to the other two couples, they do not live for rent but bought the apartment with a wonderfully large sun terrace.

This way of living became possible for the family because Christian decided to use previous know-how to start a digitalised future with one of his colleagues after the bankruptcy of his employer. The experience Michelle had gained in the digital world of the kyonauts encouraged Dimitrie and him to join the Dynamic Supply Chain as well.

Today, the two of them run a small company for digital work preparation with 10 employees or rather brain workers. They convert design templates into control programs for CNC-controlled production systems. Dimitrie is Ukrainian and, after 20 years in Germany, now lives with his Russian girlfriend in a dacha in the Crimea; Christian lives with his family in Greece.

With their company, they are specialised in the support of ultra-modern, networked shoe production systems. They have just re-entered a new dynamic supply chain. Their cooperation partner Stefan from Pirmasens in Germany, a shoe manufacturer who took over the traditional family business from his parents but then had to outsource the entire production to Asia piece by piece in the course of globalization, had again started to manufacture shoes in small series and one-off production in a highly automated way in Germany. The production know-how is still available in the old shoe region of Pirmasens and in his company. Digitalisation and automation are his passion. So Stefan is now starting up a production facility for his product niche of comfort shoes  with target group: older customers – in addition to the production facilities mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Digitalisation and automation of all IOTs also make Germany more attractive again as a business location. In recent years, energy costs have continued to rise and transport has become a serious cost factor in logistics. The awareness of locally manufactured products has also increased, especially in Europe. Since the new high-tech shoe production systems print large parts of the shoe and, as already mentioned, run highly automated, Stefen has set up several of these shoe printing centers in Europe and also in America and Asia. They are all networked and centrally controlled. Only little effort is required on-site to organise the material supply to the production plant and the packing and shipping as well as the low physical maintenance of the plants. For his bread and butter business Comfort shoes for older people, Stefan has the design know-how in the company. However, new markets for mainly young customers can only be developed to a limited extent from Primasens in the Palatinate. Not only the design has to be added elsewhere. He also obtains the highly specialised services of digital work preparation from outside.

To this end, Stefan has joined Christian’s company in a dynamic supply chain with his new DigLab Shoe company on the kyonauten platform. Also involved are a number of shoe designers from all over the world, who are involved as kyonauten in various dynamic supply chains for their respective shoe series.

A few days ago Stefan found the designs of Harumi, a Tokyo-based shoe designer, in the platform. Harumi was tired of having her design ideas torn apart by her strictly hierarchical boss: “This is too wild for our customers…”, “Harumi, this is not a discotheque. We can’t sell something like that…”

At some point, she simply quit, created a few new cool designs on her own computer at home, and uploaded them to the kyonauts in search of a dynamic supply chain. After reviewing the designs, Stefan contacted Harumi and started negotiations with her. The digital kyonauten platform automatically provides an agile, fully digitalised work environment for connecting community members. All parties involved in a supply chain are integrated into one temporary company. From the idea to product development, production, marketing, and sales including accounting, customs clearance, etc., small and medium-sized partners come together. The platform automatically helps to negotiate labor relations, costs, and distribution of sales, etc.

After Stefan and Harumi have agreed by the digital Letter of Intent, he switches on Christian and Dimitrie. The two are to convert the Design drafts of Harumi into control programs for Stefan’s production plant net. The designs fit perfectly into the brand strategy of Clara, who lives in Costa Rica and is currently positioning a new brand with her online marketing agency. Her goal is to chase young customers away from Adidas, Nike, and Puma with their sneakers in the niche. Limited editions that are sold out immediately after release and then sold at higher prices. Luxury and status as a scarce commodity. To this end, Clara usually includes a number of YouTube and Insta Influencers in its dynamic digital initiative.

The supply chain then lacks billing, customs, and tax stuff. The cat and mouse game between tax collecting countries and internationally digitised companies with tax avoidance intentions have increased in recent years. This has created a jumble of rules and regulations that require special know-how, especially for global cooperation. This is Gerdi’s specialty. Invoicing and tax assessment of the entire dynamic supply chain also known as DSC lets it run tax-optimized via Luxembourg.

The only thing missing is the online store, and Frederike from Copenhagen in Denmark has two online stores that could be used to sell the new shoes. Amazon is big, but not cool enough here.

As the initiator of DCS, Stefan coordinates the first video conference of potential business partners. Since the cooperation on the kyonauten platform is agile and highly standardised, the participants quickly find each other. Harumi’s designs quickly convince the meeting participants. Adjustment suggestions are taken up by Harumi and noted in her task card. Rapid implementation is promised. The joint project is outlined in a Development Epic, the map is immediately linked to Harumi’s designs. Since the core team of this initiative is not the first dynamic supply chain they have set up, a template is provided in the kyonauten platform for the Development Epic. A supply chain structure plan is quickly assembled in the form of work cards and assigned to the Dev-Epic. By tomorrow, everyone will have planned their topic and roughly calculated the corresponding effort.

Christian is euphoric. Although it is the tenth dynamic supply chain he is involved in, he has a good feeling. Driven by the idea he will probably work through the rest of the day and a large part of the night. He will be joined by Markus, a colleague who lives just around the corner from Stefan’s Pirmasens shoe factory. If the DSC works out, there will be more work for the two and the other colleagues all over the world. A share of the turnover beckons, which will be discussed tomorrow in the next video conference, among other things.

Just like Christian and Dimitrie with their 10 colleagues, thousands of companies now work together dynamically and serve the fast-moving and demanding markets as temporary project organisations. Entire airport and power plant constructions are offered and handled by consortia, organised through the dynamic supply chain. This highly standardised form of digital collaboration only became possible with the change in awareness regarding the person and topic-oriented communication. This one agile principle was ultimately the killer application for digital progress.

Actually, the four Wagners had an appointment with Anna and Jan for dinner in the village this evening. Now, unfortunately, something else interesting happened to Christian. Michelle is right. The children are playing in the shade on the roof terrace Memory and she is busy revising a marketing brochure for the Hamburg Caritas, which she would like to finish today. Christian detaches his screen from the computer and walks down the stairs with the tablet PC and a towel, armed, to the footbridge, where he wants to start working on the calculation sitting under the parasol. On the way, he quickly stops by Anna and Jan’s house and signs off his family from eating together in the village. He also passes Summer and Carlos’ terrace, whom he greets friendly. But Summer has other thoughts in his head right now. She pulls Carlos into the bedroom by the hand. The computers have a break, the smartphones are switched off. Now the two of them take three-quarters of an hour for each other, young love…

Once down at the sea, Christian quickly takes the dinner date off the calendar and replaces it with a do not disturb block that will allow him to work undisturbed.

This switch now triggers a request from Wagner’s refrigerator and the home gourmet. It appears on the smartphones of Michelle and Christian. The refrigerator has already put together a reorder for the food that has been used in the meantime and now asks if there is anything left for dinner. The Home-Gourmet, a fully automatic food processor that can conjure up real gourmet food and prints a large part of the food for it, makes concrete suggestions for favorite dishes from the four Wagners. After a click from Michelle, the two children are also included in the query.

Normally Christian and Michelle attach great importance to freshly cooked food with lots of vegetables and other healthy ingredients. Cooking food with time and leisure is a quality of life for them. But when time is short and both are in flow with their work, they let the home gourmet do the work.

After choosing the menu, the appliance automatically orders frozen cartridges of ingredients, which are prepared down in the village together with the food ordered from the refrigerator and the coffee bar and delivered automatically by an automated guided vehicle system (AGV). When the AGV is at the door, an alarm is triggered on all connected smart devices and you have 5 minutes to take the delivery from the AGV. A code on the smartphone opens one of the delivery vehicle’s refrigerated compartments. If one misses the 5 minutes, the AGV drives on and comes back later.

The food cartridges are then inserted into the Home Gourmet, the time of the meal is entered and you can return to your work in joyful anticipation of a freshly prepared, delicious meal. What a difference from the food deliveries that were common a few years ago with crunchy fries, tough, lukewarm meat, and soggy rubber pizzas from the restaurant delivery service.

After Christian, resting on the couch on the waterfront has assigned a production plan structural element to his supply chain element in the Development EPIC and entered Markus as a team member, he asks his computer to start a video conference with Markus.

Smart home on the slope of the Palatinate Forest is Markus’s home. From here, he has a 180-degree view of the Palatinate lowlands. For his creativity, he needs a view into the distance. From his desk, he can see up to 70 kilometers away in good weather. In the past, his gaze was often caught by the nuclear power plant, a disturbing factor in the otherwise so quiet Palatinate landscape. In the course of the German nuclear phase-out, the distinctive cooling tower was recently blown up. He still misses the sight of the steaming column, from whose steam vent he could always see how and from where the wind was blowing. But he will get used to it. What remains is the expression of German progress in energy policy: hundreds of windmills are turning in his field of vision. The rotating blades of the power generators spread a slight restlessness in the otherwise so gracefully situated Palatinate lowlands.

When Markus joins the video conference, he already knows what it’s all about. He immediately gets an alert when a new Development Epic is posted in their kyona account. Markus is curious and is looking forward to the potential new order. He has learned to appreciate the free work with Christian and Dimitri. He is employed by both of them, but he is free to spend his time with programming and fiddling around and enjoy his smart home, which he is constantly developing and tinkering with. He does not like the insecurity of being a freelancer and feels very comfortable in his employment.

The two of them take a closer look at Harumi’s designs on the screen and begin to think about how they could be implemented in Stefan’s shoe printers. Sixteen systems could run for this purpose, provided the design appeals to the shoe community. There should be a way to individualize the shoes. During the ordering process, customers can add special features to the design that make the shoes unique. However, these variation possibilities must not impair the overall design of the shoe. After the key data has been discussed, Stefan continues to work on the calculation alone. In the meantime, the sun has set and once again conjured up a very special play of colors every evening against a slightly cloudy sky. But now it is slowly getting fresher at the water. So the food signal of the home gourmet on his tablet comes just in time. Stefan takes his computer and towel and goes upstairs to his family. The food is on the table, a bottle of good red wine on top. There is grape juice for the children.

After the gourmet dinner and a quiet thirty minutes of family conversation at the table, during which the children enjoy licking their ice cream, Anna sets about finally finishing her Caritas brochure. Christian puts the children to bed, reads them another story and then gets back to his calculations.

All those involved in the new dynamic supply chain have now added structural elements to their supply chain elements in the Development EPIC in the form of task cards. Christian can see it on the DSC board. Two views are available to him in the collaboration platform. One shows all task cards in chronological order in a kind of project plan with Gantt chart. Here, the team can plan interrelationships and dependencies, visualize the rough course of the initiative and make them jointly agreeable and editable. This project plan then feeds the DSC Teamboard, a KanBan board with six status columns, later on during the collaboration: Planned i. e. in the project plan, Sprint Backlog – intended for processing in the next Sprint, on work – currently being worked on, on hold – waiting for further input, resolved – in my view is finished and done – agreed upon by the team as validated.

The lines of the board show the names of the team members of the DSC and the task cards assigned to them. Smaller initiatives with a maximum of 11 participants can manage with one board. If more than 11 people are required for implementation, multiple team boards are automatically created and a team integration is added. The meeting structure required for teamwork and integration of all participants is automatically suggested by the platform after viewing the calendars of all participants.

Another view of the collaboration board shows Christian all his initiatives at a glance. The columns are always the same but the rows of the board now show the different initiatives he is involved in. He immediately recognizes which task boards he is driver for and for which boards he has to give input. The cards that he wants to observe in particular, he pulls into his MyToDo board, looking at the eye-catcher button with a double eye-blink. Here he can sort his tasks in a kind of backlog. What he has to do first moves up, less urgent ones move down in the list. He can add his personal notes to each card in this list. For each task card, Christian thinks through his work steps and lists them quickly. They are displayed like a checklist on which he can tick off one completed to-do after another. Christian finds this ticking off very satisfying; on the screen the todo is immediately displayed crossed out. Every evening he immediately sees what he has done. Unless he actively chooses not to do so, these todos are integrated into the solution path of the task cards with an eye-catching click as a comment. Thus, each of his DCS colleagues can immediately see what the status is and where he can start with his work.

In preparation for tomorrow’s first planning meeting of the new DSC, Christian prepares his task cards and thus creates the required rough calculation. He has a good feeling after finishing his work and crawls happily to Anna under the thin blanket.

The first planning meeting of the new DSC is scheduled for the next morning. Christian woke up early and stands with a first coffee on the parapet of his roof terrace. A fresh wind is blowing up from the sea. First sailing yachts are leaving the marina of Sami and are heading for a nice sailing day in the Ionian Sea with hope for a stable wind. In front of the beach section of Wagner’s apartment house, the crews usually haul in their fenders and set main and jib sails when the wind is strong enough. The two islands opposite each other act as a wind nozzle for the sailors, which allows a fast downwind course. The calm hustle and bustle on deck of the ships is beautiful to watch. From time to time one of the sailors waves over when Christian looks behind the boats from his terrace or from the jetty below.

Now Christian sits down in the champagne colored cushions of the lounge furniture on the terrace and turns on his Microsoft Surface. Even though the Microsoft software products are not really suitable for real agile collaboration, he likes Bill Gates’s hardware quite a bit. Microsoft stands for the old world of collaboration for personal communication in emails, SharePoints, teams and group chats. The integration of the many separate tools is quite well solved, but it is a fundamentally different architecture. But since there are enough companies outside the free market that can still afford such inefficiencies, Microsoft is still doing well. The proportion of state-supported and controlled companies has increased significantly since the coronary crises. These companies are now called systemically relevant. They are characterized by less competitive orientation, comparatively little innovation and, of course, personal communication structures. The state makes it possible. Support with taxpayers’ money is tied to conditions for shaping society. Systemically relevant companies have to observe many rules to ensure gender neutrality, diversity, a sufficiently high proportion of women on management and supervisory boards, and so on. The state is thus trying to get a grip on the excesses of hierarchical corporate structures on the coexistence in society; commonly referred to as capitalism.

The new, agile forms of cooperation are not aware of these problems. Agile Collaboration in internationally positioned, independently acting, constantly learning teams is neither discriminating nor male-dominated. Family and career are compatible, spatial dependencies are largely eliminated.

The nice thing about today’s situation is that the old, hierarchical corporate structures still exist due to state intervention in the economy. In principle, everyone is free to choose how and where they want to work. In this respect, the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. To the advantage of most.

The planning meeting via video conference has started. Again, participants from all over the world are present. International collaboration with different cultures is interesting and productive. Everyone can contribute his or her strengths. Acceptance of differences, mutual support and respect for each other’s achievements characterise the collaboration. Working with and in different time zones has become a habit. One divides the day as it fits and according to Jeff Bezos, it creates a harmony between work and life. Everyone is responsible for themselves and sees to it that they keep their energy for work and life in harmony and accordingly high. A way of living that has only become possible through the achievements of technology. Broadband access to the Internet everywhere as well as new platforms that enable topic-related collaboration.

The coordination is progressing rapidly, all calculations are available. With the support of the platform, a first draft of the declaration of division is being compiled. Who assumes what risk in this initiative, what capital and labor input is required before the first actual revenue is generated? What ongoing expenses and additional operational costs can be expected? The proposal of the platform is AI-supported and based on the evaluation of thousands of similar, successfully executed dynamic supply chain initiatives. The team will largely agree.

Frederike from Denmark wants to have time to think about it until tomorrow. She wants to check something else.
Since the initiative will involve a total of significantly more than 11 participants, it is agreed that the DSC will be divided in the middle and two teams will compete. They will be synchronized via a simple integration.

Christian is confident that tomorrow the new dynamic supply chain will rise.

To be continued in part 4: Enterprise Architecture

About the Autor:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:

Photo by jj ying 8bghKxNU1j0 on unsplash.com

Will the trend of working from home continue?

Will the trend of working from home continue?

What we can take away from the Corona crisis regarding remote collaboration

According to a recent press release, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg believes that the Covid-19 crisis has triggered a long-term shift towards working outside the office. According to his personal assessment, one in two employees of the online network will work from home in the near future. He is not the only company director who has been shown by the consequences of the crisis-related lockdowns, that much more efficiency can be expected from the home office than was originally thought. This surprising discovery continues to offer considerable savings potential in expensive office space in the central locations of expensive congested urban areas.

With the “good experiences regarding home office activities as a consequence of the lockdown”, a globally active company is currently preparing in the Frankfurt area to return its office space to the landlord in order to leave the employees directly in their home office when the occasion arises. In this way, the German organisation is taking a major step towards the savings targets set by the investor-driven group management. Chairs, desks and workstation equipment could be taken away with the employees when they were relocated to their home office a few weeks ago.

How far can this bow be stretched? What works and where are the limits? I find it remarkable that these experiences with decentralized work do not yet include the actual efficiency drivers of remote collaboration.
In most cases, employees were sent home head over heels with a computer and monitor and connected to the corporate network via VPN using their existing private Internet connection. The working environment and the tools used, which are geared towards colocated office work in a building or even a room has not yet been adapted to the new requirements, but it still works better than expected.
Productivity increases not only for software developers, whose results are directly measurable through the way they work together.

How is that going to be for all the home workers when companies understand what makes remote collaboration really efficient and how to make these workplaces outside the office work? Thousands and thousands of digital nomads, on the road in distant countries and always online at work, are already doing it.

We are at the beginning of a change in the quality of collaboration and Corona allows us to look now and understand this change and its potential. It is important to think for a moment now.

So what's the difference?

The most important difference between efficient and inefficient lies in the way we communicate with each other while working together. Digitization and connectivity make the difference. But we need to move away from traditional solutions and develop the collaboration one step further to consider and use the possibilities of the digital platform business.

What will be different? Why is communication so crucial?
Our collaboration is currently designed to meet physically, exchange information, and allow everyone to get a picture from the flood of information that will enable further steps to be taken to solve the tasks.
We write down the spoken words in meeting minutes and in our little notebooks so that we don’t forget anything. We inform people who were not present by mail or now also faster by group chats. Social media makes email even faster…

The principle behind this is to arrange people into groups and to supply these groups with information. We focus on the connection of people so that everyone can experience what seems to be necessary for the work. This principle is ancient and we have only accelerated it with all the communication technology we use. Each person sorts all the information he or she needs.
If we do not have a physical meeting, we miss the ability to constantly update our information collection and stay up to date, we run the risk of being left behind. This is probably one of the reasons why people currently spend an average of two to three hours more in front of the screen at home than in the main office.

The change in paradigm which makes remote working much more effective is right here. We are turning the principle around, Information is assigned to subjects, and subjects are assigned to people.

This may seem like a rather unnoticeable difference at first glance, but it is of fundamental importance for the architecture and thus the efficiency of the collaboration! All work is written on cards. One card for each task. All communication now focuses on these tasks. Every contribution, every relevant information on the topic, or the card map is digitally combined into a thread. This automatically creates a solution path to which all participants provide their respective input.

The efficiency gain lies in the sorting of relevant and important information on topics together instead of having each individual person sort everything for himself.
Around this principle, structures of collaboration are now being built, which we already know from the agile methods. Organisation in small teams, regular alignment to the cards that are currently being worked on. Doing instead of picking and complaining. Always write everything into the cards and thus work together on solutions instead of writing emails and later searching for information in them.
In this way, knowledge is interconnected instead of people and everyone benefits from this collaboration.

If we use digital platforms such as IBM Rational or Atlassian Jira as the core of communication instead of e-mail, group chat and SharePoint, and use real video conferencing systems such as Goto Meeting or Zoom, which will allow people to see each other even when the screen is split and to see the gestures and facial expressions on their faces that are so important for mutual understanding, instead of using MS Teams or Skype to make calls with desktop sharing only. The difference will soon become clear.

Everyone has all the information they need to complete their tasks in cards that are clearly displayed on boards. Everything is accessible, everything is developed, edited, and sorted together.

The realisation that communication should be topic-related rather than person-related will be the driver for efficiency in collaboration and make it completely independent of location. Then everyone will work ( except in physical production) where they want to and still as if they are all together.

When you think about the future of collaboration, it becomes clear that neither Microsoft nor Slack currently offers the right architectures for efficient collaboration and certainly not for knowledge workers who are relegated to the home office.
The future is remote, I have no doubt. It is agile and digitalized, connecting knowledge instead of people.

About the author:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives, and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:
Photo by Jakob Owens uX7UOpU-884 on unsplash.com

Corona-Corona-Corona

Corona-Corona-Corona

I can’t hear it anymore…..

CoVid19 is a human as well as an economic disaster – yes, agreed. The consequences are not yet foreseeable – right. And I feel deep sympathy for all those who lost their loved ones in the course of this pandemic.

But honestly, I still can’t hear it right now. Especially with the implications here in social media. Every management consultancy, every accountant, every tax consultant, and whoever else now has clever tips on how to get through the crisis, how best to behave in the home office in order to still be able to work efficiently.

Already 14 days ago on linkedIn, for example, an entrepreneur got upset about this via video hack and asked to stop this consultant chatter and to make everyone believe that all work can be done equally good online. At the same time, he has issued slogans of perseverance and called for solidarity.                      

Basically, the latter is not wrong, but at the time I honestly smiled about it and thought to myself: “Another one who is spinning in the horizon of a hierarchical world and is now wondering why the ordered digital collaboration of his managerial staff banished to the home office is not working”. Today, with a slightly different perspective, I can understand him better again. At least when I take a look at the blogs and see all the clever tips that are being circulated there.

Well, consultants and trainers are now mostly sitting in their home office and have plenty of time to think up all these tips.
After all, most of their projects have been put into hibernation – and in spring.
At least organizational developments such as SAP S/4 HANA or complex product developments can apparently not be handled in a fully digitalized way.

Doesn’t work? Goes well! Mature solutions for remote collaboration and thus for the current problem of collaboration during the crisis have been available for a long time – but apparently not in the consciousness of those responsible and affected!
It’s just not enough to start thinking about it during the crisis. And sitting neatly dressed in your home office, waiting for tasks to be delivered by email and skyping from time to time is not really a solution for the current challenges.

Our largest business transformation with S/4 HANA rollout at an automotive supplier with over 60,000 employees simply continues in completely virtual teamwork. Our program, with currently around 170 team members scattered around the world, was already geared towards fully digitalized collaboration with agile methods and a Jira collaboration platform trimmed to KanBan. So we didn’t lack much for completely decentralized collaboration from the home office anyway.
Virtual integration and user acceptance tests, online SAP training before Golive and also cutover planning and execution all function in virtual teamwork.

We are currently preparing the next rollout wave and mobilizing the project management teams in EMEA, Americas, China and ASEAN in our virtual seminar center.
Alignment in the plenum with up to 60 participants alternates in our workshop sprints with intensive work in small teams. Switching on the video camera is mandatory – if the bandwidth allows it.
We use Conceptboard as a virtual work board and work simultaneously on a common canvas. All of our work in the program is managed on Jira cards, where we work together on solutions instead of searching for information in countless emails.

However, it is not enough just to provide the appropriate tools. If you are interested in what you need to know in order to work together in a decentralized way, please watch the following video. It’s a clip from a Meetup keynote long before the Corona Crisis that explains what’s really important in virtualizing collaboration.

About the author:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives, and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:
Photo by CDC c4IBsSCuwIU on unsplash.com

The purpose of agility is to activate brainworkers and maximise EBIT

The purpose of agility is to activate brainworkers and maximise EBIT

The term agility is increasingly mystified in discussions. Partial aspects are torn out and examined without context.
Those who present agility as a pure “mindset topic” misunderstand what ultimately is at stake.

“Agile is a mindset” – yes, that is certainly true, but not only that. At least in the manufacturing industry, a great deal of structure is needed to bring this agile mindset to life and change corporate cultures. “Managers must hand over power to employees” – oops, that sounds almost socialist… – no medium-sized entrepreneur or manager will “hand over power to employees”. This is certainly not a primary goal of agility. Is power from a hierarchical position possibly equated or even confused with leadership effect through competence in connected structures? That’s two pairs of shoes… Or else: “an agile company has a purpose, making money is a side effect” – oh yes, that’s right, that’s certainly the main reason why Apple sells the iPhone X in Germany for 1.250 € and does not offer it for about 450,- € – including a “cheeky 50% margin surcharge” on the (estimated) actual production costs…

Meanwhile, there are many different views on agility but there is nothing mystical about it. Companies are an association of people who create common benefits in the market. They do this by selling products and services with which their company generates turnover. From this cash flow, raw materials are paid for and the income of the individual participants is generated. If this principle does not work, the company does not work and disappears from the market unless it is a state-owned company. Of course, in the long run, this principle also applies here.

Agility for me is nothing more than an evolutionary stage of collaboration that enables an organisation to activate many employees, to think along with them, and to get fully involved in order to maximize profits. A healthy company that is well-positioned in the market and generates profits can not only pay its employees but also invest in innovation and satisfy investors. 

On the other hand, it is well-known that every trend has a counter-trend (see Matthias Horx, The Megatrend Principle). Thus, it seems to be hip in current social media articles to acknowledge that the wave of agilization has already passed its zenith. I think that is clearly premature.

The need to subject collaboration to an evolutionary development arises from the development of our markets as a result of the achievements of four industrial revolutions Mechanisation, electrification, digitalisation and connectivity. The result to date has been fast-moving markets with more and more opportunities, in which increasingly complex products are traded.

The hierarchical structures of our companies have their roots in the 19th century. We work with top management, middle management, and employees according to organisational principles that were established when farmworkers were gushing into the factories on a massive scale and, with their previously learned skills of running behind horses and plowing the field. They had to suddenly cope with relatively complex factory jobs at that time.

These structures will at some point undergo an evolutionary revision in the course of the rather dramatic development of our society and in the direction of digitalisation and connectivity, which is not only obvious but a compelling consequence in adaptable organisations.

Therefore, it is also obvious that companies that are better organised in this way (like agile ) will eventually outstrip their development resistant competitors. This is why and only because of this Apple can sell its iPhone X at such a high price. And that’s why Nokia’s mobile phone division is far away from the window…

The development of digitization and connectivity is unstoppable. Even if some are trying to do so. At the beginning of the last century, there were also farmers who held on to a horse instead of getting a tractor. Does anyone still plough with a horse today?

If you want to be prepared for current and future markets, you cannot avoid dealing with the evolution of collaboration. And the latest thing here is agility. For agile organisations, the challenges of the VUCA world are a welcome distraction. Digitalization and networking are becoming an opportunity rather than a threat.

Agile Mindset is a very important component here. No question about it! Work is easier if we see a sense in it. An active co-thinker is not someone who, deep down in a hierarchy only does what he is told, but someone who finds a working environment that allows him to play a full part and bring his company forward in the competition. In order to achieve this, it is particularly important to make intensive use of the technical achievements of digitalization and connectivity. In larger, scaled agile working environments, these create the transparency that is absolutely necessary and thus the basis for alignment and cross-functional collaboration between many co-thinking people.

About the author:

Rainer Borg
After 10 years of consulting and development work in a large auditing and management consultancy and as the CEO of a start-up, Rainer Borg dedicated himself entirely to the topic of Scaled Agile Collaboration in organisational and product development.

With profound competence in Scaled Agile Enterprise architectures, he dimensioned agility from the individual team to the entire group of companies.

His passion is to accompany companies in their change, to initiate structures that enable the management to manage the complexity of change initiatives, and to master and control it. On the other hand, to enable employees to get involved and actively shape the company.

Photo credits:
Title: Maxime Lebrun 1520687 unsplash.com
Graphic: kyona GmbH