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How to build Agile culture: an Uber case

As Agile culture benefits get recognized by companies that adopt the methodology, more and more companies are planning to start the Agile revolution.

However, as Agile is a mindset that needs to be understood and put in practice everyday, the Agile shift needs to impact and be synchronized with the company’s culture to be fully embraced into the daily practices.

This means the Agile shift needs to be both comprehensive and iterative, by understanding the company’s goals and improving the path to move towards it and testing, learning and correcting the practices as it goes (McKinsey).

In this Uber agility case conducted by Luis Malave and Bryan Jiménez, we’ll analyze how Agile has transformed the processes and improved workflow and productivity at the company.

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The goals

The big challenge Agile helps address is developing quality products and services that respond to the needs of customers with changing priorities. As every company is unique, the facilitator had to adapt the Agile practices to fit into Uber’s needs.

The agile reshape at Uber had 3 main goals: optimize the amount of time used in different planning exercises to maximize the focus on the job; give general visibility to the workflow,

team goals and priorities to act efficiently in any of these areas; and align team priorities with

business priorities to increase the value contributed by the teams.

The path adopted to create these shifts is through structuring a holistic work process that includes business strategy, tactics and operations.

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The strategy

The strategy was designed to implement changes that bring value in little time , to evolve independently and adjust to existing needs in brief interactions.

They decided to generate a personalized work schedule that would allow the team to respect the organizational structure and, at the same time, implement the tools as their own needs.

Flexibility is key

When organizations plan in advance rather than via adaptation, they will have, at the end of the periods, many projects and initiatives that were not undertaken, as they did not achieve the desired strategic effect.

Agile helps teams to adjust the process as it goes, preventing a planning structure that would cause problems if altered. This mindset embraces the fact that plans change, and it’s often better to be flexible than getting attached to plans that are displaced from daily reality. 

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The results

In a short time we generate significant value for the teams and learn to learn:

Significant time reduction used in planning

The overall number of hours used in planning was too high: the Ops took about 8.8 hours weekly, the equivalent of 22% of the time, and the leadership took approximately 12.8 hours weekly for planning, or 32% of the time. 

After revisiting the organization chart for meetings and ceremonies, the time allocated for planning, preparation and adjustment by the Ops team and leadership was lowered to 5h each.

Unique and optimized work structure for everyone

The Agility process created a structure in which all participants add value, are constantly aligned and priorities are mediated by all members of the team.

This brings clarity to all team members about the effect their tasks have over the projects and Workstreams that are being prioritized.

Visibility in the work process

Before Agile, the levels of anxiety of the team were high, because, apparently, every task was important, and it was hard to prioritize and plan work.

40% of the tasks were not planned, creating a strong feeling that everything was urgent. The facilitators helped the team to organize a digital prioritization board, allowing the team to control the flow of tasks that effectively can be finished during the Sprint.

Greater focus on strategic prioritization

Many organizations implement agility at the team level, but few do so at the business level. However, the Agile strategy needs to happen top-down, because leaderships have to endorse and protect the changes that are being driven.

The EVR (Enterprise Visibility Room) is a practice and a set of tools from the leadership team, which guides the organization of an agile strategic management, allowing

the advanced visualization of decisions and options among different initiatives strategic by contour of management (WorkStream).

Visual management for the Company’s strategic and high-level plan is done by providing the organization’s group of leaders with a team identity, as well as a workspace and with adequate tools for early adaptation of the strategy. 

Due to greater transparency over the processes and of the business strategies, each participant of the team remains himself aligned and the decision-making has

the main focus on the defined strategy.

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Wrapping up

Using Agile methodology, the teams considerably improved time management, came together in a unique way, became more systematic and were able to move forward on what really mattered. 

Having more visibility of projects and initiatives was a great contribution to the process, improving communication and helping the teams learn to prioritize tasks.

The Agile methodology can be implemented in any organization concerned with improving processes to gain advantage, save time and improve team’s efficiency. If you plan to promote Agile training in your company, we have the right talents to make it happen. 
Let us know in this link about the moment the company is facing and our specialists will book a coffee with you shortly to better understand your needs.

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Ana Luiza Magalhães

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