FYI June July 2019

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Responsible autonomy means letting team members self-select their own tasks, and trusting that they will not be motivated to pick up only the easiest, most interesting jobs. That’s where team accountability comes in. “It can be hard for managers to adjust, and I’ve met some people who say they simply want nothing to do with it! They have to step back from their traditional project management role and relinquish control. Although I would argue it’s the illusion of control, because when does a project ever run perfectly smoothly?”

Agile and the future workforce

When Rashina first started teaching Millennials around 10 years ago, she essentially had to introduce the concept to them from scratch. Now they’ve already heard of it – albeit this may be more hype and scepticism than reality. “Once they have a genuine understanding of agile, Millennials and Gen Z find it very appealing, because it’s collaborative and about being real with the whole process.” “I’ve found Millennials to be far more flexible when dealing with uncertainty, and their ability to prioritise intrigues me. They seem to have a natural sense of value for time and well-being, and how to achieve balance. They’re far better at that than, say, my generation. Rashina’s research continues. She and colleagues at Chalmers University are presently studying Volvo Cars in Sweden, investigating what might be an effective framework for large scale agile. “In a big company there tends to be a heavy layer of management, with teams below this who are keen to be nimble,” she explains. “It’s a clash of cultures, and the question is how to balance this. And how do you ensure inter-team co-ordination across multiple sites? The questions are massive – and open-ended. There’s not been a ‘Eureka!’ moment yet.” Just as with any technology or trend, Rashina urges business owners to not just jump in to agile. “It’s a huge decision, one that’s going to affect the way you do everything in every part of your business. It could be truly transformative, but you must consider your context carefully. Analyse exactly who you are in terms of customers, values and products, and then ask, ‘Why should we do this?’ rather than, ‘Why shouldn’t we?’” Want to learn more about how you and your business could benefit from agile working practices? Rashina has developed an Agile Team Assessment Tool. Please note: this is an ongoing, research-based project, which is updated periodically. Visit 20

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Greener travel options It seems unlikely that a completely virtual workplace will ever exist. As individuals and companies strive for more sustainable business practices, how could the traditional commute be more eco-friendly? FYI sought opinions from three Business North Harbour members, and from an organisation tasked with supporting commuters’ efforts to be greener. Over the last few years, car lease and car finance company Driveline Fleet on William Pickering Drive has seen a steady increase in enquiries for hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs). CEO Lance Manins attributes this to consumers “getting their head around” what’s available, seeing the value of making the switch, and wanting to be a part of the renewable community. The vast majority of interest – between 80 and 90 per cent – comes from private

Lance says he often hears consumers express “range anxiety”. “I say to them, ‘You wouldn’t let yourself run out of petrol, so why would you let yourself run out of power?’”

individuals, and these seem to be motivated primarily by attitude. “People want to ‘do their bit’,” comments Lance. “We’re seeing that the economic advantages are a secondary consideration.” Even so, at this stage, EV leases account for only a very small amount of Driveline’s overall business. This is possibly due to continued uncertainty around resale value. “To the best of my knowledge, most of the bigger vehicle lease companies aren’t promoting EVs at all, except perhaps as a ‘green strategy’ to their large, corporate clients.” However, Lance sees this changing massively over the next five years, as the technology continues to evolve, resale value uncertainty resolves, and the market stabilises. “It’s beginning to happen now. Manufacturers are supporting decent products at a decent price – and EVs are starting to become available from the brands themselves rather than through importers.” He points out that the future isn’t necessarily all about EVs. “Toyota is researching hydrogen powered cars, and there’s been talk recently of Taranaki potentially producing ‘green’ hydrogen.”

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