Managing a Global Agile Manufacturing Company
I just enjoyed an interview with a Masters in Project Management student at Bond University in Brisbane Australia, Marcos Marciel Sgoria. His research on Agile in Manufacturing companies led him to read Paolo Sammichelli’s fantastic book, Scrum For Hardware, and that introduced him to both Paolo and I for research interviews. His questions were, I think, fantastic, and I have blogged an abbreviated version of them below:
Marcos Marciel Sgoria interview Agile in manufacturing. 2019 November 7. Tokyo Japan (Agile Business Institute Japan HQ) and Brisbane, Australia (Bond University) Skype.
Q: How to get over the belief that agile doesn’t work in hardware?
A: Because I have already ran a global agile manufacturing company, so when people come to me they are usually not asking can it work or saying it can’t work, they know I have done it already, so they are asking for me and my colleagues to look at their company together and decide together if anything I learned doing agile in manufacturing is beneficial to them.
Q: You are the executive of a global agile manufacturing company that has had operations in 23 countries. How to manage a global agile manufacturing company in many timezones and countries?
A: This is where Scrum helps us. Each team has a Product Owner who knows what the team has done at least as of last sprint review, what the team is doing now, and what the team is doing next. They can usually tell me that in less than minute. So in 15 minutes, I can ask that question to all the product owners. And there is usually a 15 minute timeslot that works for everyone. So we all had a video chat daily for 15 minutes to answer what each team has done, what they are doing now, and what they are intending to do next. As the product owner of the entire company, I checked the bank account balance every day. In fact, I subscribed to a Txt Message daily that told me the company bank account balance. Then I knew what was important for the company to do next and what it had done and what everyone was working on know. This let me make funding decisions in real time. During that 15minute daily meeting I would commit to send teams that needed it $15,000.00 USD or similar.
Q: How to handle the parts connecting with each other across different areas?
A:Interfaces. This is part of modularity. This “fit test” of the interface is our first TDD. We don’t fund a team if they don’t meet the interface. This topic is so important that the co-creator of Scrum, Dr. Jeff Sutherland, has posted a webinar of me discussing this aspect of modularity in detail, here: (https://www.scruminc.com/agile-architecture/)
Q: As an engineer I have been taught to believe high performance products must not have modularity. I have been led to believe we cannot have high performance products if it is too modular.However, the result of not having modularity is every minor change effects everything, makes change slow- when you want to change anything have to change everything. Can you have a modular product that is light and optimized versus integrated?
A: Yes. The speed of iteration and cost reduction of change outweighs the modular size and weight. We can iterate 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper, or more, with modularity, than an integrated solution. By reducing the size and weight of each module while increasing each module’s performance, as happens each generation, we reach a product that is lighter and faster and higher performing even while retaining the size and weight of the interfaces.
I hope some of you enjoyed this interview exchange!
Professionally and with respect,