Mixing innovation and process to go to market more quickly.
Many of the product leaders in companies creating integrated hardware/software products I’ve talked with this year are looking at ways to speed up their development process and add agility.
So, I asked around who has the best experience with this and was referred to our guest and author of the book Scrum for Hardware, the first authoritative book on this emerging movement by the same name.
His name is Paolo Sammicheli. He’s a licensed NLP Business Coach specialized in Scrum, Kanban, Design Thinking and Lean Startup, helping organizations uncover better ways of building products.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:15] What are the factors that are leading people to incorporate Scrum into hardware projects?
The post-industrial revolution is causing a lot of changes in the industry and in society. The time to market is decreasing and innovation is a competitive advantage. If companies don’t innovate, they might not survive. As a result, user expectations are increasing and hardware needs to be developed more quickly.
[6:34] What are the key components of Scrum for hardware?
I like to think of it like an iceberg. On top, or the things you can see, are processes for scrum at scale. If you want to start doing Scrum for hardware, you need cross-team coordination and processes. You also see engineering practices and extreme manufacturing. This is a set of common practices that work well across a variety of manufacturing sectors. Under the water of the iceberg are the principles behind these practices that are more tailored to an organization’s culture and more difficult to copy from one organization to another.
[12:52] What steps does a team need to take to implement Scrum for hardware?
The steps are similar if you do hardware or software. It starts with a discussion about the company’s value streams. What are the cash cows, what are the rising stars, and what are the end-of-life products? It’s best to start Scrum on a rising star product, something that’s important but not critical to the bottom line right away. Then, you need to identify the value stream and the skills needed to produce value at each step in the stream. Once you know the value stream, you can start to build your team and train them to understand how Scrum works. It can be expensive to implement, and that might require buy-in from the top. At that point, you’re ready for lift off with the Scrum team. You might need a special space for the team to collaborate and share ideas. The team should develop working prototypes at the end of every sprint, which means that it needs to include different skillsets.
[22:21] Can you give us an example of this process in action?
There is a company in Sweden that builds jet fighters and use Scrum across their organization. They use an accessible modularity in the products that defines modules and interfaces bigger than what you need one day 1. This allows teams to work independently on each module, which speeds up the time to market. Each module fulfills one or more business needs, but there is one user story per module. Scrum allows the business and technical team to work together on these modules to solve problems and make things grow faster. The Scrum teams should be less than 9 members, and ideally 5-7 people. There should also be less than 9 modules per product.
- Scrum for Hardware book on Leanpub or paperbook on Amazon
- Paolo’s website, Agile Business Coach
- Connect with Paolo via his LinkedIn profile
- Scrum for Hardware website
“Do what you love, love what you do.” -paraphrase of Ray Bradbury
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