by Khrystyna Zachkovska, Enterprise Scrum Master and Agile Coach, Lobyco at InterLogic
Every year thousands of companies fail to grow and die in the trenches of fast-moving digital war/competition. This is an example of a brave organization that overcomes the challenges of a constantly changing environment and still remains truthful to its core human-centric values.
Just a few years ago there was a small team with few engineers working on a fintech startup project at InterLogic. The project was about handling payments for cocktails during various festivals and crowded events that were quite popular in the pre-pandemic world via NFC chips integrated in bracelets.
Later it was bought by Coop DK – Denmark’s leading consumer goods retailer chain with more than 1.200 stores across Denmark. Payment solutions were integrated into the huge retailer’s system with millions of customers in Denmark.
Recently there was one more transformation – “back to startup mode” in 2020 when a new company called Lobyco was established. It aims to build SaaS solution for retailers all over the world and already provides world-class solutions to clients – Danish, Norwegian, Romanian, Icelandic, Greenlandic biggest retailers.
Lobyco is a proven, powerful white-label customer loyalty platform. With its slogan “From retailers to retailers”, Lobyco onboards new clients all over the world. Strong technical expertise, deep domain knowledge, and proven solution for one of the most digitized markets in the world works as a charm.
It helps retailers drive customers to retail stores, build customer loyalty, and increase customer value. It’s a powerful white-label solution that will help create a seamless shopping experience between physical stores and digital channels.
Now Lobyco is a fast-growing startup company with over 150 employees in multiple locations. Just to give a sense of growth speed – there were only 4 members in the development team in 2016-2017 while at the end of 2018 there were 28 team members and that number doubled by the end of 2019.
Almost Agile. Almost transformation.
The transformation from a small team into a company with hundreds of employees brought new challenges but also many new possibilities, especially for personal growth. Everyone can find opportunities for self-development in technical, management or product track.
Common context that leads to a common purpose is essential for aligning and agreeing on approaches before starting the transformation process. Therefore, company leadership and key people conducted workshops to firstly understand their needs and goals.
We started with:
- Setting our expectations up from Agile – finding as many answers to ‘Why’s as possible to be able to come up with good ideas from the beginning, keep people motivated, and the business growing
- Understanding and accepting Agile principles and values, aligning understanding with the teams
- Adopting Agile
- Choosing most suitable frameworks, not just the famous or the best-known one
- Training people, practicing leading by example
- Improving by inspecting and adopting, adjusting the process based on our needs.
We are designing our own agile development methods based on our specific needs and context. We are open to experiments and learning.
Leading by example is one of the key tools to achieve good results in scaled environment. So we support and invest in training and learning events to let people get new knowledge and share it with others.
Agile transformation is a continuing process and we still have areas for improvement but our main goal – understanding and development of agile culture – is achieved and we believe that success is a path not a final destination.
Fail fast, learn faster.
Life of every person and every project consists of successes and failures. The art of success is to turn failures into achievements. In our environment we are not afraid to talk about failures, we don’t blame anyone for mistakes, we are always open to find solutions together and take actions to avoid the same ones in the future. So with every failure, we are becoming smarter. When we have Demo sessions across the organization, we encourage the teams to share not only their positive achievements but also their failures.
In order to improve current progress, bring more value, and make the teams happier, understanding of strengths and weaknesses is essential.
We try to accept that we cannot know everything upfront. So, we have some great ideas/inputs and agree to make a try. It could be anything from a new call-to-action in the mobile app or a new way of organizing.
Then we observe the outcome closely. If the call to action leads more users to the expected behavior, then we keep it, otherwise, we discard it.
Same with the organizational change. We inspect and adjust based on positive and negative consequences instead of trying to over-analyze up front.
Murphy’s law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Successful stories usually have multiple input preconditions that are rarely the same for various cases while failures often have concrete reasons and knowing them could help to avoid this in future. Failing faster means you are lucky to have more time to do some things properly.
Don’t be afraid to take a break to inspect. The more often you have a chance to verify, analyze, and adjust the cheaper the price of the issue or mistake would be.
Scaled challenge accepted
We have been constantly growing for the last couple of years so the scaling journey has been developing as we become bigger. We have been practicing different approaches on how to scale – we used popular scaling frameworks (e.g. SAFe, LeSS, etc.) for inspiration but most importantly we used knowledge based on our own experience and observation.
We build an environment that nurtures growth of new leaders and when there is a need to build a new team, we build it with the help of highly competent individuals. That helps keep people inspired and motivated and a new team passes stages of team development in an easy and fast way.
We build our professional relationship based on trust and respect where almost every teammate is self-organized and can find answers to his/her questions without ‘proxy-man’ and has a space to share knowledge, ask questions of anyone in the company. People in our organization are organized in small, self-managed, cross-functional teams which are empowered to make decisions, practice innovations, and drive internal and external communication. We are aiming to create alignment by establishing a common vision, goals, and architectural guidelines. One of the other tools we use to make knowledge transfer and alignment across organization that is even more effective is communities lead by knowledge areas leads.
InterLogic is a Danish-owned outsourcing company in Ukraine that provides IT services for clients like Lobyco. When we are looking for new teammates, we always aim for technically strong specialists who have good soft skills and match our culture and pace of work. How do we achieve this? We involve our best teammates in making decisions about inviting new people into the team. We believe that bright and talented people naturally attract such talents. We encourage our teammates to participate in technical interviews and make recommendations – 34% of all hires at InterLogic in 2021 have been done by internal referrals.
Agile transformation is an interesting journey that starts with leaders, cultural ambassadors, who support new mindsets throughout the organization and results in changes in culture. Once you started – continued improvements are sure to happen in your company.