When the Zeelandia team was being trained in Agile, or agile methods of project work, at the beginning of 2020, no one realised that the new skills would come in so handy as early as March
Zeelandia is the market leader in bakery and confectionery additives.
It all started with a meeting with the head of R&D, who reported a need for greater agility in delivering new products to market. The nature of the business required bold ideas to be put forward and feasibility and profitability to be tested quickly. Team members were eager to learn about the new working concept.
Include all participants in the development process so that they can quickly apply ideas in their workplace. Demonstrate through practical examples how to work more agilely in teams. Prove that intensive project work can be very rewarding when tangible results emerge faster and more often, and that these results can be evaluated by the consumer.
The interdisciplinary nature of agile management required the inclusion of a wider range of participants from outside the R&D department. The idea was to ensure that key stakeholders in the projects understood the underlying concepts. Participants were split into two groups of 15-20 people who took part in both the Raven 13 simulation, followed by Retrospectives through which the team better understood where the challenges and immediate needs lay. The next stage of the programme was extended Agile training, which allowed participants to understand the agile working philosophy and practice the subsequent stages of building a product. An engaging aspect turned out to be the exercises in presenting the next stages of projects where participants played the roles of Product Owners, Scrum Masters and Development Team members. A major strength of this development process was the fact that the workshop was also attended by board members and department managers. This made it much easier to get support and encourage the employees to apply the new working methods.
Could we have guessed in January 2020, when our team participated in the training course “Agile Project Management – Agile/Scrum”, that the knowledge we gained would come in handy sooner than we thought?
It was due to COVID-19 that it became even clearer that our entire reality in which we have to operate is VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous).
When all our assumptions changed within a few days, we had to go back to the subject of training and make sure that:
1. we are still heading in the right direction,
2. the communication rules would ensure a quick response and regular feedback from customers and our team members,
3. we have established new operating rules and updated our internal processes,
4. when the situation externally is unclear and ambiguous, we find the optimal course of action.
During this training, we practiced how to work more closely together, keep each other informed and maintain satisfaction within the team, which proved particularly helpful during the pandemic.
Hoping that the emergency situation we faced last year, and unfortunately still have, will not happen again, I confidently say that the project management techniques and tools we learned will be used and developed by us. Indeed, they will be of use to everyone, we found them only a little more useful because of the time and the situation.
– Maciej Zakrzewski
Managing Director / Zeelandia Sp. z o.o.