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An innovative working model for the digital market

25.10.2018
An innovative working model for the digital market

At Audi Business Innovation (ABI), work is organised into small teams which are independent, agile, flexible and fast – just like the digital market.

Audi Business Innovation, established in 2013 in Munich, is a 100% subsidiary of Audi AG which develops, implements and carries out innovative products and services in the areas of IT, digital business models, and mobility. One of these is Audi on demand, a premium mobility service designed to be flexible and comfortable. Customers can book the Audi of their choice by the hour or by the day using either the dedicated website or an app; comprehensive services and personal assistance at vehicle handover are included. Audi on demand is currently available in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Munich. Additional locations are being considered.

Work at ABI is divided into teams which meet regularly to compare notes on what works and what needs improvement. In this way they quickly work through an unbelievable number of topics, determine responsibilities, and define the next steps.

In the digital world, work follows rules and rhythms which are very different from normal ones. Being successful in such a complex, fast and dynamic sector requires adaptation, and above all, flexible structures. ABI grew very quickly from an initial headcount of 9 to the current 190 employees, and since the decision-making paths were too long, they needed modificationto become more agile. They tried out a few different solutions, before deciding that self-organisation was the best.

But self-organisation doesn’t mean that everyone can just do whatever they want – quite the opposite. Everyone has well-defined tasks, but instead of being organised into fixed departments, they use interdisciplinary teams structured as “circles”. These circles are tied dynamically to projects in which everyone has defined roles, and they check regularly to see if the roles are still applicable to a circle; if something isn’t working, they change it.

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Switching over to self-organisation became necessary primarily because customers and markets for digital products change much more quickly than, for example, those for a car. This means that the development cycles are significantly shorter. Quick decisions are necessary in order to react to constantly changing market requirements. This is why the teams meet up regularly, while governance meetings are held every three to four weeks in which goals, roles, and problems to be solved are discussed. The meetings are chaired by a facilitator, who is chosen at the beginning of the meeting – a sort of moderator who leads the team through the meeting and directs things efficiently.

ABI’s employees also live out self-organisation when it comes to their personal lives. For example, several employees got together and established their own daycare in the city centre, not far from the office – they call it ABIKids. Others also spend time together outside of work. Improving personal relationships also means improving working relationships, and therefore co-operation.

SourceAUDI Blog

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