Thinking outside the box: what I learned about agility at Porsche Digital Lab
Agility is one of the most important preconditions for the working world of tomorrow. Whether in the development of new products, the simplification of internal processes, or interdisciplinary cooperation, agile working methods are finding their way into many companies. This allows them to strengthen their innovative methods and long-term competitiveness.
In my position as coach and manager at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, agility plays a decisive role. Here, I develop concepts around transformation and organizational development issues and seek to implement them. However, every company implements agile working methods in different ways. For this reason, I took a look behind the scenes at Porsche Digital Lab Berlin for three months and was able to experience the company’s flexible and agile working methods first-hand.
Freaky Friday with a difference: internship at Porsche Digital Lab
Following a leadership conference about brand planning at Volkswagen, my colleagues and I came up with the idea of developing several prototypes for the leadership division through Design Thinking. One result was an internship at another company. I was excited about the possibilities this could open up: new inspiring ideas for organizational development and, at the same time, a deeper knowledge of New Work.
I quickly chose the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin. After all, which place could be more suitable than the Porsche idea lab to look beyond the borders of your own brand? The lab is agile in its day-to-day business and is also intensively involved with New Work. This is, for me, the ideal framework for learning as much as possible in the three months.
Flexibility and openness instead of hierarchies and rigid structures
Just as spontaneously as the idea for my trip to Berlin arose, it was also implemented. I was warmly welcomed by all of the Porsche Digital Lab team members, just as they do with everyone here. In the weeks that followed, the entire workforce was always ready to answer my questions, while Roman was by my side as a permanent “companion” and sparring partner.
My first impression of the lab’s corporate culture was solidified during the three months. I appreciated the relaxed culture, as well as the open, direct and hierarchy-free interactions, which helped foster a very trusting working environment. This allowed me to arrive and integrate into the team very easily.
From the concept to the first product in three months
The work processes and the project environment in the Porsche Digital Lab also reflect this openness and flexibility. The teams develop new solutions in agile projects over the course of three months — from the concept and pitch to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a rudimentarily functioning product. The teams first present the results to each other, then to their Porsche Digital colleagues and even the board at the so-called “braintrust” format. A joint decision is then made on how to proceed.
Despite the very short and intensive work intervals, the Porsche Digital Lab attaches great importance to team spirit. As a scrum master in an IT project, I was responsible for ensuring that the focus and collaboration in the team worked well. I constantly asked myself the following three questions: is the team setting the right focus? Are we applying the methods correctly? Is the team evolving?
In Berlin, agile and new work come together
It was particularly exciting for me to discuss a number of questions surrounding new work with the teams in the lab. What does modern organizational and personnel development look like? What do management methods such as Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) mean for the modern working world? What potential do agile working methods such as Design Thinking offer? The exchange of views resulted in completely new perspectives for both me and the Porsche Digital Lab coaches.
For me, the special thing about Berlin as a location was the variety of opportunities for exchange and networking. In addition to the Porsche Digital Lab, many other young, modern and agile companies such as the VW Digital Lab and the Audi Denkwerkstatt, are also based here. This gave me even more impetus and, from my point of view, allowed me to make the most out of the three months.
The future of work is agile
My conclusion is clear: The opportunity to break out of my usual work environment and to get to know the processes and methods of an innovative lab was very inspiring — both professionally and personally. I’m returning to my job in Wolfsburg with many new impressions and ideas on how we can improve upon existing working methods and, above all, make them more agile. Although I’m happy to be back, I will still miss my great colleagues in Berlin a little bit. Thanks to agility, we remain in close exchange 😊
It was a great, insightful and exciting time at the Porsche Digital Lab and I can recommend an experiment like this to anyone who wants to break out of his habits and think outside the box!