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Product Strategy

Guépard workshop: 2014 achievements and 2015 alignment

Vasile Putina
Vasile Putina
CTO Pentalog Software Factory

Context

For Pentalog, 2014 was a very productive year, full of dynamism and filled with challenges. In my opinion, the launching of the Guépard agility program was one of the last year’s most important decisions. The resulting processes have a complex positive impact based on:  guepard2

  • Agile trainings,
  • individual coaching,
  • team coaching at different project stages,
  • other activities our colleagues are involved in.

In January 2015 we organized a workshop dedicated to this agility program. It was aimed at reviewing the actions of the previous year, refining the plan for the current year, as well as creating, together with the participants to the workshop, a strong Agile team full of energy able to sustain the agile transition.

Participants

For a more complete picture of how things were going at that particular stage of the program, Aleth (Chief Quality Officer) and Manuel (Chief Operating Officer) joined the initial team (made up of Vasile, Monica and Cornel) for this workshop. To be honest, with such a team nothing is impossible! And if I were to use only one word to sum up these two days of work, it would be INVOLVEMENT.

Below are the most important addressed topics.

Agile concepts – alignment

Ensuring consensus at conceptual level laid the foundation for discussions related to responsibility sharing between a leader and his team in an agile context. It is difficult to list all the topics we discussed. Extremely important to me was the discussion on the adjustments necessary for responsibility sharing between the leader and his team in an agile company. More precisely, we talked about how the agile team is empowered to define and improve its work processes, make decisions related to the means, technologies and instruments necessary for achieving the project and company objectives.

In an agile company, the same as in the Lean philosophy, the leader’s mission is a priori person and team development, so that they become autonomous and capable to deliver value added products/services within the shortest delay possible. For this to happen, the leader must be, first of all, a good agile coach. During the team’s initial training stages, he will instruct the team, offer active support for process definition, strengthen and animate the team, eliminate obstacles, help the team communicate in a constructive way, ensure a common vision etc. But what is his main responsibility? Simple: to coach the team towards self-organization and the adoption of a Kaizen culture (continuous improvement).

2014 achievements

After discussing the agile leaders’ mission, we analyzed together the actions implemented in 2014 and came up to the conclusion that the 575 man days of Agile training, the provided coaching and project accompaniment began to pay off. First of all, we noted a change of mindset: there is more openness, flexibility, desire to learn and implement new things, etc. We really appreciate that a high number of teams took advantage of the training enthusiasm and the newly acquired knowledge to improve their processes and adopt agile practices. Another positive result is the improved visibility on some projects, which allowed us to make the suited decisions in due time. This process shall nevertheless continue until it becomes a habit. On the same line, the increased transparency should allow teams to take preventive rather than corrective measures.

Agile League

This year we’ll invest more time and energy in project accompaniment with a view to:

  • increase the level of transparency,
  • ensure a better project kick-off under safer conditions,
  • ensure continuous agile oriented training for the teams.

Increased visibility will help us secure our projects, improve the quality of the provided services, make the decision-making process more transparent and pragmatic, and also have self-confident teams. This will also allow us to easily follow up the impact of the Guépard’s program on projects and adjust its plan according to the existing needs. An important part in this process will be played by the Agile League, made up of experienced Pentaloguians, who will also benefit from specialized trainings (coaching, leadership etc.) and mentoring for a certain period of time. At this stage, the Agile League is already closely working with the production teams with a view to increasing visibility and inspiring the teams to continuously improve themselves.

Courses

This year as well, trainings will make up for an important part of the program. We have thus planned to animate the following courses: Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Product Owner, Leadership, Scrum Master, Coaching, Extreme Programming. The Guépard program alone will account for 800 training man days this year, which will ensure, together with the other activities, a strong impetus for agile transition.

Alignment of internal processes

May I remind you that one of the program’s directions consists in matching Guépard’s vision with the ISO 9001 standards that Pentalog is already aligned to. Certain actions implemented in 2014 will be continued this year. And I refer here to the revision of the operational processes that reflect the ISO requirements with the ultimate purpose of ensuring alignment with the agile practices. The participation of the Chief Quality Officer in the Guépard workshops and activities will massively contribute to the sharing of a common vision and to an efficient matching between Guépard’s vision and the ISO requirements.

Increased visibility

Visibility is the key of an empirical process. It is widely known that any measurements and reports are but an abstraction of what is actually going on where value is created (gemba). We have thus decided to go one step further in this direction and ensure we have a closer connection with the real place where things happen. To this end, we’ll implement the concept of “Genchi Genbutsu” (Go and See), well-known in the Toyota Production System. What does it mean? In order to make the correct decisions, ensure a consensus and achieve objectives, one needs to go to the source and find the real facts. Participants in this workshop will apply this principle with various production teams to latter on verify results and make adjustments. In particular, we will analyze the possibility of extending its application scope.

We also discussed about short and medium term actions, and some of them are still ongoing. Nevertheless, I consider that the above-mentioned elements will make the difference between today’s and tomorrow’s Pentalog. I look forward to coming with more information on this topic.

Keywords:  collaboration, Guépard workshop, Agile League, visibility, coaching, Lean, Genchi Genbutsu, Go and See, Gemba.


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