I started my career at Land Rover over 30 years ago and enjoyed many changes of ownership and ways of working. I was primarily engaged in the tuning of the distinctive vehicle character. I was also formally trained in Engineering Business Management and developed a particular flair for leading ‘task forces’. This was extremely valuable when projects hit a crisis point when, inevitably, the fixed targets ultimately yield to what the users actually want.
This approach delivered great products and a certain excitement, fuelled by adrenaline and positive performance reviews, but the cost was less obvious. This was not only to the project’s economics, but also to the health and well-being that the resultant imbalance of work and family life inflicted on this ‘heroic army’. The existing operating model was also unable to cope with the increasing demand, complexity and unpredictability that was evident in the automotive industry. I therefore put my traditional preconceptions to one side and supported by Jaguar Land Rover, explored human cognition, agility and resilience during my doctoral research.
The resulting transformation generated a measurable improvement in throughput, timely delivery, and the well-being of the teams.
The fact that I started my agile voyage in an established, non-software domain made the journey even more exciting. I have subsequently explored other parts of the value stream including improving integration with suppliers agile methodologies and confronting the transaction model.
Having implemented agility at scale, both as part of the research and in the subsequent engagements, I now enjoy working with people to capitalise on opportunities or help resolve their problems. The academic rigour required by the university means that I can also back my claims of a statistically significant culture shift and the effectiveness of ‘agility at scale’ with data.
Day Two Case Study: Thought Leader Session 14:45 – 15:05
An agile convert in a traditional world – The human facet of agility by Dr. Martin Davis
I will share the experiences that shaped the evolution of ‘agility at scale’ for the vehicle refinement group at Jaguar Land Rover in the hope of illustrating the power of collaborative transformation and the potential of the teams. This will be a personal perspective, based upon my experience of the impact of the increasing complexity, unpredictability and growth during my 30 years in the automotive industry.
There was recognition of the need to adapt in response to the turbulence the industry is now facing. I engaged in the doctoral research to ensure a rigorous approach to the transformation of the tuning activity that generates the distinctive character of the vehicles.
The research in itself required considerable adaptation. Expecting to find innovative solutions to technical and process issues, the direction changed considerably when the discovery phase identified an operating model that was not compatible with the psychology of those who operated within it. This learning informed the pragmatic application of agility at scale, which demonstrated both the benefits and the need for context specific tuning by the participants themselves.
The duality of my ‘customers’ also presented a unique challenge. The university required defensible, rigorous research, with considerable detail, whilst the industrial partners wanted accessible information that could rapidly inform the change. Consistent with this paradox of academic research into agility, I will signpost key themes, parallel sectors and underlying theories, but focus the talk on examples of their application to the challenges I faced.
I will illustrate the outcomes before briefly reflecting on the fact that such agile systems thinking is now evolving across the whole value stream, including enhancements to the supplier relationships.