Agile Company Transformation
Supporting transformation at Robert Bosch, a leading European industrial firm
Bosch is an incredible company that has grown from its founding in Stuttgart in 1886 to become the world’s leading supplier of automotive components and a highly trusted consumer brand.
The group has a very strong culture, with Bosch associates often staying decades, and is known for an obsessive focus on quality.
As a stable, profitable organisation, Bosch is a great example of the kind of traditional firm that can thrive in the digital era; but like so many others, the organisation needs to adapt.
We played a key role in their transformation journey over the past 7 years – see HBR’s overview of the Project for an Agile Company.
- Inspiring change through learning at management, central services, production and specialist division levels
- Innovative digital workplace development, including adoption strategies and value measurement
- Big picture strategy for the future organisational operating system
- Tactical team-centric transformation efforts
- Embedding cultural change and new ways of working
- A step-change in thinking about how change is delivered across the organisation
- A new organisation-wide platform for communicating, co-ordinating and collaborating in new ways
- Innovative, detailed system for large-scale democratised change to deliver an agile company for the digital age
- Team-centric approach to implementing continuous change
- An embedded and extensive culture change programme at the organisation, team and individual level
Keynotes & Learning
Back in 2012, Bosch invited Lee Bryant to deliver the keynote talk at its annual EBB event for all leaders in the group, and he gave a talk anchored in European history to make the case for more rapid change, and advised them to treat the transformation to a more agile, adaptive organisation as a ten-year process.
This marked the beginning of our support for their journey. Since then, we have given keynote talks and presentations at various events, agile company conventions, E2.0 conventions and the first WOL Convention. We have also been involved in management development programmes to help cultivate the future leadership needed to operate the future firm.
Digital Workplace Development
Bosch hosted one of the largest implementations of the IBM Connections platform. After helping the small Enterprise 2.0 team create an adoption & measurement strategy, we went on to enable specific business units to leverage the platform to align adoption strategies to key strategic goals.
The project led to the development of a number of innovative methodologies that remain core to our Digital Workplace Development work today, such as peer-to-peer support communities for digital guides, social surrounds for key processes to improve efficiency without re-engineering them, and the alignment of digital workplace use cases to strategic goals.
We worked with the management board to establish a project to define and design an ‘agile company’ model across the group, looking at organisational models, culture, technology and transition strategies.
These efforts were then brought together under a central project team, which we advised and supported with methods, ideas and internal digital products that could be spread more widely.
We created an agile system hub to codify learning and supported change agents directly and through their amazing annual events to help connect digital leaders across the group. This learning hub focused on two elements crucial to creating a movement for change:
Agile transformation learning materials: agile governance, business management and leadership, ways of working, culture and technology – principles, patterns and step-by-step guides for accelerating change.
Transformation tools to systematise and democratise change within teams, through goal-setting, prioritisation of an actions backlog, and outcome measurement.
Working Out Loud for Teams and Leaders
We joined in a co-creation effort with an amazing bunch of colleagues at Bosch and John Stepper, author of Working Out Loud, to adapt the basic idea of WOL (Working Out Loud) circles to the challenge of team development and leadership communication, and we shared the results of this work at Bosch’s first WOL Convention.
Both pilot programmes were fully subscribed & the techniques have continued to evolve into a wider programme of work, sponsored by the board member responsible for HR.
WOL for Teams adapted the basic method to the challenge of small, agile teams working together in real-time – a simple but powerful practice that can help develop high performance team-working.
WOL for Leaders encouraged them to narrate their work, share their thoughts and links with their teams for greater alignment and to exemplify a culture of collaboration. We see this as a crucial skill for leadership in the agile era, and it is a testament to Bosch’s commitment to agility that they recognise the need.