Annual report 2016 – agility stories
When it comes to agility, the Ixo team leads the way in the Home and Garden business unit
Reading time: 11 minutes
Faster, more efficient – and with its finger on the pulse: the Bosch Power Tools division is reorganizing its Home and Garden business unit. The role model for the introduction of agile forms of organization and work was the Ixo team, which is now launching new products even more effectively.
Every do-it-yourselfer is familiar with the Ixo, the versatile Bosch cordless screwdriver. The power tool is now in its fifth generation – and continues to be refined. As well as the product itself, the ways the associates behind it work and are organized have changed fundamentally. So when the entire Home and Garden (HG) business unit was reorganized, the Ixo team served as a model. The transformation process started in April 2015 with an interdisciplinary team of four people from product management, brand management, business development, and engineering.
“When we began, we had only a vague idea of how to put the concept of ‘agility’ into practice in order to arrive at better results faster. Our brief was to act like a small, independent company.”
Daniel Friedmann, spokesperson of the Ixo team at HG
Helped by a coach, the new “purpose team” tried out agile working methods. It quickly became clear that there was no sense in using one approach alone. To achieve its aims of a high level of customer focus, assuming responsibility for sales and result, and the development of a future-proof portfolio, the Ixo team now makes use of an entire toolbox of modern innovation techniques, such as kanban, scrum, and design thinking.
Sprints ensure focus and prioritization
All the team’s work, whether product management or the development of new concepts, is broken down into three-week periods known as “sprints.” Each sprint prioritizes and focuses on clearly defined work packages. The individual tasks of each package are written down on cards and pinned to a sprint board. “After several hours planning a sprint, we usually have more than a hundred cards on our sprint board, each identifying individual tasks,” Friedmann says. “And each associate knows what has to be done for each of those tasks. This way, we ensure that collaboration is interdisciplinary.”
The project progress gets visualized
At the “daily,” the regular 15-minute morning meeting, the team members pick a task from the “to do” column on the sprint board, while cards whose tasks have been completed are moved from the “work in progress” to the “done” column. “This simple visualization is very motivating,” Friedmann says. “Everyone can see how the project is progressing – and at the same time, everyone is proud to see what we have already achieved.”
The whole business unit is repositioned
These new forms of work and organization function so well that they have been applied to the entire Home & Garden (HG) business unit. “Together with HG associates, we have reorganized the unit into ten of these interdisciplinary ‘purpose teams’,” says Bernhard Hegemann, the head of the agile transformation project at Bosch Power Tools. “At the same time, however, it’s important to pool and improve specialist knowledge. This is ensured by our functional excellence teams.”
Inspiring working conditions (IWC) in the Home and Garden business unit
The focus is on flexible working hours, telecommuting, modern IT applications, and an attractive and creative work environment.
What do the new work and office environments look like?
This new working environment is intended to foster creativity, communication, and cross-functional collaboration, as well as to encourage associates to work independently. This means a large number of project and meeting rooms that make exchange and feedback possible at any time. But there are also quiet zones and rooms people can retreat to if they need to concentrate. Inspiring working conditions help make work more efficient.
How does this change the way of collaborating?
Barriers between supervisors and associates are lowered, and direct exchange is made easier. The proximity to other disciplines means that colleagues from different functions – e.g. marketing, development, or quality – directly experience the way other units work, and benefit from this diversity. Innovative IT equipment makes flexible and virtual collaboration possible, which helps people act autonomously and find a balance between work and private life.
What role do the IWC play in the reorganization?
In an attractive environment geared to associates' needs, creativity can be enhanced. And apart from enhancing creativity, the telecommuting and many other working models offered by Bosch help associates to work independently and find a work-life balance. Inspiring working conditions are intended to allow associates to arrange their work in such a way that they feel at home – and are thus more motivated and productive.
What exactly is Bosch trying to achieve?
At root, this is about a new working culture. A good working culture is essentially based on the following principles: a clear sense of belonging, mutual respect and trust, the opportunity to both concentrate and communicate, the freedom to work independently, and simplified means of exchange. These seven elements are the basis of IWC and of the reorganization of the Home and Garden unit. This also benefits customers, since innovative products are brought to market faster.
The reorganization of the Home and Garden business unit has helped make work faster and more efficient. In addition, more attractive working conditions make associates more creative and inspired, and this also benefits customers.