Video -Applying Half Double in product development projects in GN Audio

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Keynote speech by Claus Hjerrild Holm, Senior Director at GN Audio, on how to develop and launch new products by applying Half Double in projects.

Transcript - Claus Hjerrild Holm, Senior Director at GN Audio Video


[00:00:06] We started out like three years ago, back in the 70s. It was the beginning of a new strategy period. We kind of knew we had the ambition at that time that we wanted to grow our business. The coming three years about doubled the revenue. And I think we succeeded on that. But in order to do that, we were also kind of looking at the organisation that we had ahead of us. And we saw that we had a number of challenges. We were quite the siloed. We had the issues with the escalation in projects. We had issues with planning. We had a number of things, such as the duration of our development programmes was very long. We were talking about anything from 18 to 36 months. And we were kind of hit by upper management with a wish for going into something, a mode called four plus seven or triple seven, basically down to 10 months from starting something to actually delivering it to the market. And that was quite a challenge. And we had to work fast. And for that, we created the Olympia programme where one of the activities was a stream called Speed in programmes. And here we looked specifically into what to do in our project development to actually get the right level of speed. And the we kind of learnt that the half double could kind of cope with the some of the challenges we had. We like the thing about the embracing chaos, because we are a company where things change fast. We are working in a high risk environment and we are constantly kind of food being managed more by the market than by ourself. So if something changes in the market, we will also change it into the project. So we expect of our projects that they will be able to cope with sudden changes. And a lot of that we could see from the half double. We kind of started our training. And I think that was by the end of 17 going into 18. We trained a lot of our palms and our product management people and even some of our marketing people. We could kind of see that the impact on the flow was quite easy to train. But the leadership was a challenge for us. So. And at the same time, we could also see that the traditional way that we were working was pretty much it was operations, it was R&D and it was product management. We kind of lacked some of the other participants, like business management and marketing, who would also be important and where we could see that kind of our processes were this aligned marketing. They would be talking plans going 100 weeks out. And we were still aiming for 10 months of development flow so we could see we would need to align our processes in order to hit the market running and make sure that we did projects in the right way. So we created intune and we made which was a new project name, where we basically started to look at our development model, figuring out that both the flow and the impact and the leadership path, none the least. And looking at it, both cross-functional but also kind of hierarchical, both looking at the governance structures as well as how we work across the organisation. Intune was later on translated into impact model. We needed to give it a new name and we actually liked the impact word because our marketing people are talking about impact. We can only survive if we create impact in the market. We do not, as a company, have the marketing budgets of an Apple or similar type of companies. So we can only survive if we create products with great impact to the market. So impact was a good word and we kind of started then with the impact model to translate the half double terminology into edgy in language or an Jabra language, which basically is. 

[00:03:54] So for us, we call the impact model. It's about decision making. It's about development flow. And then it's very much about tools, training and templates impact. It's about innovation. It's about creating great products. It's about motivation, because we can only do this if people think it's cool to to work for us. And we want to be able to attract the right talent, which is also quite difficult in our business. Predictability. We are extremely driven by market windows. We need to be ready with the products at the right time. So that is also important for us. Accountability links Olympiad into the predictability. But it also links into that. We need to make sure that we know how people are acting. We are coming from something where we did not have one way of working. And with this we are basically starting to train the organisation of a sudden way of working creativity. Everything we do, we do on standard components. So we need to be creative with what we have, and that is sometimes to require something extra and then trust some of the challenges we had from the. Past was that the feedback we got from the organisation was there was a lack of trust. Top down, but also. Yeah, sorry. Wrong way. Bottom up. Top down. There was basically a lack of trust. Both ways. And we needed to basically start to build a model here where we could create the right level of trust across the organisation. 

[00:05:29] So if we'd take it a shot, what is it? It's about decisions. It's how to start our projects. It's also tools and templates and then how we organise. 

[00:05:41] If we look at the development flow, we have had a lot of focus in the initial phases, which relates very much back to the impact we, uh, we have organised now so that we have a concept thing, a team starting up in the beginning of projects, and then we have execution teams taking over later, especially our concept. And people have been extremely happy about the whole impact, the setup. Making sure that we understood kind of the success criteria's and the difficulties around the things we wanted to start. And basically, it has enabled us to be much more creative around the products that we are delivering to the market. 

[00:06:19] Fixed rhythm of of events also makes a lot of sense. 

[00:06:24] It's it's basically leading back to creating a structure of how we are running our projects. In the past, we had as many ways of running projects as we had the PMS or project managers. Now we are basically with this starting to force them into a common way of working, which makes a lot of sense because in the past we were maybe 150 to 200 engineers working. Now we are more than 400. So also with the increase of the organisation, we cannot have that every time you start a new project. It's up to the PM to define a new way of working. 

[00:06:57] So we need a certain way of doing it on the decision structures. We kind of have created the milestones for the projects and then we have gates towards our senior management. What you're seeing here is basically the gates. 

[00:07:14] Before we did this, we had up to like 27 different meetings related to projects across the various functions. Now we are trying to limit it down to a smaller amount of meetings, maybe a few more than here, but definitely better than what we had in the past. On the decision making here, we we have a simplified forum structure, kind of a simplified way of making decisions. 

[00:07:44] We kind of urged the programmes to run demos as kind of part of the drumbeat. 

[00:07:50] So there will be a fixed rhythm of how they present the results of what they are doing. 

[00:07:55] But there's also kind of the PBB approvals that we had. That's our product portfolio, both our TMT, where we go up and the present for Gates. 

[00:08:04] And then basically it's kind of this drumbeat that we have created where sudden decisions, certain decisions are made at certain times in the project. 

[00:08:14] We have kind of the updated roles and responsibilities. There is a fixed, defined decision space for the for the teams on what they can decide on and what not. We have been working on the expected mindset. 

[00:08:29] What is it we expect? What is the behaviour that we that we want to see from people in the various levels? And that also links into the responsibilities so that we want to be able to be sure that across different projects, different teams. It gets clear that we there is a certain amount of responsibilities that we need. We need to be able to rely on that. We we do this the same time whenever we do a project. 

[00:08:53] Same goes for the expected actions. And the and the last thing there is the target allocation for each member. This is something we're working on. 

[00:09:01] When we started, we said plus 40 and then we thought that everybody being in the project should be there 40 percent. But we could just see that that doesn't make sense. We need to look for a reasonable amount of people who are basically working to that, the amount in the projects. And we thought it would be up to maybe 60, 70 people. It's maybe more down to 15 people per project that will actually put that amount of time into it. But that's something you learn when you start to work with it. 

[00:09:29] The last part, but maybe not least important, is that we have started to structure our projects so that there is kind of a core team, which would be the traditional project team. 

[00:09:38] And here we also have the leadership team where the where the programme manager or the PMA sitting together with the with the global product manager who is part of the project here. We have kind of included also people from business management and marketing. And we did that because one of the challenges we saw from the past was that cross-functional alignment was really happening at our GMT level and not down in the projects. So there was a lot of kind of firm things that would not go out to the various function of the organisation down in the projects. It would be escalated up to TMT and from there on it would cascade down into the organisation with this structure. Here we are trying to capture some of the challenges with our organisation and then making sure that the right people know what is going on in the projects. They understand the impact case of the project, the kind of the success criteria and the challenges. And whenever something happens in the project, we expect that the cross functionally the project starts to handle it. Then they can escalate it to the next level, which is our sponsor teams, our sponsor teams, Predix, consisting of what we call level three to leaders, which is the level just below our GMT, which should basically empower the projects to be quite the strong in terms of making decisions, but also in terms of providing recommendations up towards our GMT. The final step here is our GMT, where basically our CEO Seo is heading up the GMT. So it's the top level we can get to. But we actually tried with this to make sure that there's a cross-functional representation in the projects all the way through the project organisation. Would we like it to be a little less people? Yes, but this is right now mirroring how our organisation is kind of organised and and we have, for that reason, chosen the organisation to look like this. 

[00:11:39] The last part here is about tools, training and templates. 

[00:11:42] We in one of the challenges we had was we had tons of communication towards tons of places where we could store data. So now we have kind of agreed to that. We are using a certain amount of tools. We are. Are we allowed to advertise here? Yeah, OK, we are using something like the mirro bought because visual planning makes a lot of sense. But doing it on whiteboards also makes sense if you you're just a Danish company. But if you do it the where you have Chinese and US teams involved at the same time, it doesn't really work. So one of the first challenges we gave implement when we started to do this was we need this digitally. We cannot the kind of do visual planning on a whiteboard that doesn't make sense for us. So we found this tool here where we can basically do it. We can share it across multiple countries and everybody can Real-Time go in and do their visual planning. The other tools, I think, are more known. We used Euro for planning and TMF for kind of documentation, and then we have teams and the whole package around that. We have also kind of simplified our tools and templates. So making sure that this kind of a fixed set of tools and templates that everybody working in projects can assess. And then we are working a lot on training our organisation, which we did not do in the past. In the past, we basically relied on individual functions to make sure that their people were trained. Now we are starting to getting in the first few people. Not that we have a lot, but it's definitely more than a hundred percent increase compared to the past. And we are training. We have both been training through implement, but we have also now started to coach our own projects and hiring our own people with the responsibility of making sure that we train out in the projects, in using these tools and mythology's. What did we get out of it or how to develop and launch products at? And I think what Michael wanted me to talk about was a little bit what did we get out of it? Did we get what we were looking for? We talked. I talked about in the beginning about the the three plus seven and what we were coming from. And I don't think we have hit three points plus seven. But we are we are close. I think we are maybe maybe four to five and then maybe eight to nine is more than reality now. But we are far from where we were coming from. But I think the most important thing is when we talk about this, the success of this and the impact part of it. If you're looking at time, maybe we have not kind of gained the time we were looking for. But I think what we have gained is much better products, much more impact with the products that we get to the market. I think the releases and the success we have in the market can somewhat be kind of a counter to that. We have started to work in new ways and that we are kind of have reorganised and structured so that the innovation that we put into our products and the creativity is giving us kind of the impact in the market that we were looking for. 

[00:14:54] So we are all in for it. Thank you, Lao's. 

[00:15:02] Please stay with me for a second to a close. Because we've we've been working on on this project of spraying native. Spreading it out from one project into multiple projects across not just R&D, but also other parts of the organisation. And you know what? You what has been what what would you say would have been some of the biggest organisational challenges that that you have faced along the way in this? 

[00:15:31] I think it is one of the biggest challenges. 

[00:15:36] Maybe not related so much to the organisation, but I think one of the biggest challenges is actually we were cumming's from something where there was a perception in the organisation that everything was managed by top management and that the projects could not make any decisions. So part of actually rolling this out was creating the new structure, creating the sponsor teams and the leadership teams that we were talking about here. But doing that, we also kind of got our senior management to accept that we would place more responsibility on these sponsor teams. And I actually think one of the most difficult things was, one, get the approval for doing that, too. When you then start to give that responsibility to a new group of people actually managing how they take that responsibility, because you will have people who were kind of will take more responsibility than what you have intended and you feel that you did everything possible to describe it very precise. What is the mandate? And still, they will do with their own interpretations of fur or fur, what they can and cannot do. And that is kind of fur that's to be managed and kind of difficult. 

[00:16:44] I realise that. And if you were to give it advice for others who would like to do this in their organisation, what would be what what would you like to advise them to do as kind of the first step in implementing half Dublin in the organisation? 

[00:16:59] I think make sure that top management is also trained into this. I think we have done it the. It has been partly a bottom up. Top down. I think the top down. Maybe our management did not always know what they actually allowed us to start up on. And the we we have certainly had some difficult meetings where we had to go back more than once and explain it and to say what it was we wanted to do and what we expected to get out of it. It has taken the time and I think maybe, if possible, try and get senior management on board even before you start. 

[00:17:36] Thank you so much, Klaus.