"The future world of work will call for a management and corporate culture based on openness, creativity and the will to make decisions and engage in discussions," says Dr. Karlheinz Blessing, Member of the Volkswagen Group Board of Management responsible for Human Resources and IT. "We are adjusting to these developments. At Volkswagen, we are changing the way we work, manage and deal with each other."
Agile working: independently organized teams instead of rigid hierarchical control
More and more departments of many Group brands and business areas at Volkswagen are basing their project work on agile principles. This approach focuses on "less push, more pull": independently organized teams process steps in the project while managers concentrate on defining goals and assigning priorities to higher-level groups of tasks.
Volkswagen IT makes intensive use of agile working methods, especially in software development. Other major organizational units within the Group brands, including research and development, sales or production, are increasingly testing agile forms of cooperation. For Volkswagen, the main benefits of this approach are unbureaucratic procedures, increased speed and improved results.
The Group is therefore consistently adapting workplaces and entire office concepts to agile working methods in order to foster collaboration and to strengthen a corporate culture of cooperation. The newly constructed IT City in Wolfsburg is an outstanding example. The office campus for about 1,500 employees is oriented towards agile working. Features include work islands for project teams, meeting points, fully networked meeting rooms and retreat rooms for concentrated working.
Pair programming: IT project work as in Silicon Valley
The pair programming (pairing) approach at Volkswagen is based on the project work of Silicon Valley IT companies. At Volkswagen IT's Digital Lab in Berlin, software architects, designers and developers work on the basis of the pairing method. They form teams of two and always work on the same content of the project. This division of knowledge accelerates progress with the project, reduces errors and allows rapid adjustment to short-term changes in customer requirements.
Methods and experience in this area are now being transferred to the core IT organization in Wolfsburg. Increasingly, the possibility of "cross pairing", cooperation between IT colleagues in Germany and India across national and time zone boundaries, is being considered.
In addition, Volkswagen uses the pairing approach for the recruitment of qualified IT graduates. Instead of attending a conventional interview, international applicants spend several days working together with a Volkswagen employee and are fully integrated in project work – this is a first step in getting to know the team.
Group Connect: knowledge network for the entire Volkswagen Group
In a globally active organization such as the Volkswagen Group, departments and specialists are no longer located solely at company headquarters but are distributed throughout the world. This is why Volkswagen already launched the Group-wide knowledge network Group Connect in 2014 with a view to fostering dialog between its employees from different regions, departments and hierarchical levels. In the meantime, all the Volkswagen Group's 620,000 employees can use Group Connect.
Group Connect accelerates and facilitates the transfer of knowledge within the Group. Users can work together, find experts on specific topics throughout the Group, and request and obtain the information they need. They can call upon knowledge that has already been developed, take their orientation from best practice examples or provide such examples themselves. In addition, Volkswagen also uses Group Connect for intensive direct interchange between managers, including Board of Management Members, and employees.