Placing customers at the heart of transformation with Agile

Airbus case study

With digitalization allowing companies to accelerate the pace of innovation and making agility a key to achieving a competitive edge, a lot of manufacturers turned to this modular, customer-focused product design method to enable them to respond quickly to the changing customers’ needs. Two companies which I think are great examples of how to adopt this method in daily processes are Airbus and ING. Read more to understand why. 

Airbus: Connecting the dots between the methods and placing users at the heart of the transformation

“The unleashing of creativity and freedom needs to be counterbalanced with structure and discipline to create value”

Grazia Vittadini – Airbus CTO

-Adopt Agile methods: Sprint in Airbus manufacturing processes started in 2013 with top management sponsorship. It kicked off with 6-8 people, 100 days and 50% time commitment with a five-day introduction – training on methods, agile at the core to bring iterative and incremental prototyping. 

-When in doubt, use design thinking: Use design thinking to get clear idea of the problem, don’t jump straight to the solution. Think as the user (rather than for the user)

-Work with C-K (Concept-Knowledge): What concept am I trying to develop? What technology already exists? Where is competent? What is the partnership strategy?

-Be a smart rebel: Don’t apply methods by the book, but take inspiration and adapt.

Make it official: Airbus set up their university as a hub for their network of innovation labs. Key issue on the agenda is the technology for a sustainable flight as the demand for air travel doubles every 15 years. AirBusiness helps Airbus and other companies develop skills, mindset and behaviours.

-Face challenges head-on: Disruptive challenges Airbus is currently tackling are: 

  • Electric and hybrid propulsion
  • Autonomy and connectivity in increasingly crowded air space
  • Advanced materials for reducing weight and recyclability
  • From manufacturing to mass production. In space, from debris avoidance to debris removal.

-Be brutal: Only have innovation when product/service meets the market.

-Start early: Airbus has built an innovation ecosystem, with six key elements both internally and externally over the last 10 years. They now have 70 innovation platforms. They went from ‘execute & control’ approach to ‘experiment & explore.’

Innovation ecosystem

-Monitor performance: Airbus monitor innovation performance via a funnel. 11% of their projects make it through to deployment. 

Innovation performance measurement

ING: Using the PACE program to prepare for a future of change

-Find your PACE: Clear on the fact that the current business model won’t work in the long-term and that the priority lies with customer experience, ING created PACE to speed up innovation across the business. It relies on the interaction between lean startup, design thinking and agile. PACE is used for small programs and has five phases: 

1) Discover: understand the problem

2) Problem fit: what problem are you trying to solve? 

3) The solution fit: co-create with customers, ideate, mockup and prototype

4) Market fit: check legacy systems, start small 

5) Scaling: start to earn money from it, grow

Example of the result of using this method as a way of organizing teams is ING’s receipt scanning app. After customer research and prototyping, took a year with IT to introduce. Already scanned 500,000 receipts. 

Product prototyping example

For larger projects, ING uses accelerators. 

Agile the Spotify way: Agile organization has been deployed across IT and business teams based on Spotify model. It started in the Netherlands HQ with 5,000 people, then rolled out nationally and globally. Each country had to adapt for need and culture. 

The constituents of the Spotify agile engineering model are squads, tribes, chapter, guild, trio, alliance and chief architect. Squads are self-steering multi-disciplinary teams organized into skills chapters such as data analytics and UX design. Tribe leads, agile coaches. 

Spotify agile model

The foundation of the Spotify Tribe is autonomy and trust. When there is trust, then there is ownership and accountability of the work done. Trust helps to create an environment where failure is taken as an opportunity to learn, innovate and change accordingly.

For any questions on the above, reach me on the network.

Click here for part one and part two of my innovation series.

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