Agile transformations in the automotive sector: what’s changing now

Agile transformation is the answer of many companies that have been particularly affected and challenged by digitalisation in recent years. After e-commerce, telecommunications companies and banks, other sectors are now waiting in the wings. The reason to deal with a profound transformation is not only digitalisation, but also other significant changes and global trends. One industry that is particularly in the focus of this change is the automotive industry.

How agile is “agile enough”?

There is a growing realisation that individual agile initiatives cannot achieve the full benefits if they are not embedded in a larger context with the right framework.

But wait a minute! Isn’t everyone already doing “Agile” in the various German OEMs and the supplier industry? This may well be true for individual projects and departments, but what I am currently observing are the first signs and tendencies for a much more profound change, just as we could observe in the previously mentioned industries. There is a maturing realisation that individual agile initiatives cannot achieve the full benefits if they are not embedded in a larger context with the right framework.

What is changing

But what specifically is changing? The decision to transform usually triggers major adjustments to and within the organisation. Existing structures are questioned and optimally aligned with the customers and the own value chain. Role models are revised and adapted to the requirements of the new way of working. The logic of prioritisation is being rethought and redefined through a consistent focus on what is most important.

Moreover, while the current crisis is postponing investment in the future viability of the industry, its necessity remains. OEMs and suppliers need a fundamental renewal of the way they develop products for mobility. To this end, I have three tips for you.

My 3 tips for all managers in the manufacturing automotive industry

  1. Do not let the current crisis unsettle you. In the future it will be even more important that your company remains agile and flexible, especially in times of crisis. And that all employees think for themselves, actively help to solve the challenges and take responsibility themselves instead of waiting for solutions from management.
  2. Agility and the accompanying changes in culture are also, or especially, in the development of physical products (e.g. mechatronic systems) a way to bring customer-centric products to market faster – a real competitive advantage in times when the environment is highly volatile.
  3. Think agility not only as a project method, but bigger: to really fully develop potentials, face the much bigger issue of ideal framework conditions. This requires time and leisure, but it is worth it.

I would be happy to share my experience from current transformation projects in the automotive sector with you – just contact me!

Written by

Christoph Schmiedinger Christoph Schmiedinger Complex topics and challenging technologies? That's where Christoph Schmiedinger feels particularly at home. He supports automotive manufacturers and their suppliers in preparing their organizations for the challenges of the mobility revolution. As an experienced executive consultant and industrial engineer, he also provides hands-on support for the transformation from a traditional to an agile company. The native Austrian has been working with agile methods for over ten years. In particular, he has built up expertise in agile transformations and large scaled projects as well as in the agile further development of physical products and safety-critical systems. He has also developed digitization strategies for major banks in Germany and Austria. He shares his knowledge in trainings, as a speaker at conferences and in regular publications. Christoph Schmiedinger is the best proof that determination, openness and humor can be perfectly combined. He particularly enjoys working with people from different cultures. "Commitment" is one of the most important agile values for him, because he values the trust that is placed in him.

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