30 Jan Metrica6 takes part in workplace innovation project
(Click aquí para la versión en español)
Metrica6 has been one of the few selected projects in the START AT BEST programme (https://startatbest.eu/) aiming at the implementation of several workplace innovations.
Our workplace innovation project relays mainly in improving communication skills and tools among each member of the company (managers and workers), with the aim of creating dynamic protocols for a better holistic performance in current and new projects.
It is relevant to highlight the implication of the whole company in the continuous evolution of its workplace to improve results, quality of work and quality of life.
We are aiming for a multi-action holistic innovation of our workplace, as we think it is only that way that we can generate an agile, balanced, impactful and profitable result.
The procedures for some of the specific actions explained hereinafter, are also accessible throught the START AT BEST website and our LinkedIn site.
This project also considers safety measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
In summary, even though we have invested time in the past to improve our structure and performance and we have had some success on it (for example, the KANBAN methodology using Trello or the weekly reunions), we haven’t tried to commit the holistic change this ambitious workplace innovation project addresses. For the effort we are committed to take, we want to assure that implementations and results are long-lasting and evolving over time.
Before the project
Metrica6 has currently 10 members with different technical, business and commercial background. We create and exploit our own patented technologies (internal projects) and help other companies and administrations in developing ideas from concept to market (external projects). This R&D activity is multisectorial. Moreover, the customers/projects do not start all in the same stage (some projects start from the basic concept to develop and in some others we are in charge of optimising a functioning prototype into an industrially scalable version or detecting and solving issues from other developers). Consequently, there is a big variation between each new project, meaning we have to adapt to each situation.
One of the main challenges is to reduce the generation and impact of delays in the execution of the projects. We organize our work with a Kanban methodology using an online tool (Trello), with regular meetings along the project to check its evolution, schedule tasks, establish deadlines, solve issues and comments, etc.
However, we do not seem to find the key to make it efficiently: if the follow-up is very close, managers spend a lot of time on it and do not have enough time for their other tasks as specialists of an area; if the follow-up is more “relaxed” (for example, meetings every two weeks instead of every week), team members do not work efficiently (misalignment of the priority tasks of the projects, reports lacking of crucial information, etc.).
In both cases, potential risks are similar: delays in the project delivery (of over 2-4 weeks) and customer’s dissatisfaction.
Another challenge addresses several points related to the managing skills of line managers and the tendency to micromanagement. These problems are the direct results of the ones explained above (actually, in a microSME like ours, all problems are more or less co-related). Even though we try to atomize tasks description to our best, it doesn’t always reach adequately the members who are to execute the tasks, which leads to misinterpretation, idle times, etc. On the other hand, it is very easy for us to fall into micromanagement when we do follow-ups to avoid these kind of inefficacies, even though micromanagement is an inefficacy itself. Managers often have to review up to 3-4 times the same report or type of report from different projects.
Also, depending on the team member and the task/project, we might often miscommunicate, leading to ineffective performance management and inadequate appraisal system. When a manager is working on his/her own high-specialisation task, it is not easy to track the performance of each individual, because there is no information when a task has ended and how. For example, when a task is finished, if the manager is dedicated to something else, the team member will continue working on the following task, but it can take 1-2 days for the manager to check and validate this previously finished task. When the manager reviews it, very often he/she has to make comments for improvement to the task, so the team member has to stop the one he/she was carrying out and go back to the previous one to finish it. This back-and-forth is very time consuming and frustrating for both and is in part consequence of lack of decision making in team members.
We are aware that our R&D activity makes us face new technological challenges in every project, as we are in charge of developing new and innovative solutions with none or few examples to compare with or guide us. Consequently, we need to be agile in prioritizing objectives, tasks and resources, being capable of shifting things along the project to keep top efficiency. We expect regular training in communication and design-thinking through the following actions will help us improve our outcome.
We aim for an innovative workplace methodology based on gamification, design-thinking and communication skills, co-created with managers and team members, which are feasible, competitive and socially impactful:
- delays and bottlenecks reduction
- stop micromanagement
- empower decision making
- personnel feel their performance is valued
- easily replicable via results dissemination: internal (for new projects & new Metrica6 staff) & external (for other SMEs).
Innovative actions will be implemented sequentially (and maintained for the rest of the project and afterwards), so there is an adaptation period for less than 3 new processes/tools each month. This way, employees will adapt better to the situation and managers implementing the plan (and also subjected to the same actions) will have enough time to check deviations, correct errors, solve questions and comments, etc.:
- MONTHLY PROJECT CANVAS. Managers are the ones distributing tasks and data to team members in each new project. However, we will establish CANVAS co-creation, so that personnel working on the project will have a general perspective of the product/service we are creating, hence understanding much better what is mandatory and what is optional, how to create value for potential customers of the product/service under development, how it will be marketed and distributed, etc. Each project will begin with every member participating in it creating his/her own CANVAS. Then, the team leader will create a common version, which will serve as project guide. Each week, the team will review it and see if they can add/correct something to create added value.
- CUSTOMER’S LINK. Employees (including managers) are not always aware of customers’ satisfaction or needs. We need to train this aspect so everybody gains perspective on Customer’s Relationships. That is why we will link each employee with at least one customer from one of the projects he /she is working on. This person will be in charge of all communications with this customer (with brief reports to the Direction) and responsible for his/her satisfaction at the end of the service.
- TEAM MEMBERS’ REVISION. Team members will pass their results to other members (instead of managers directly) for a review periodically. We think this will help other members to understand better the work of their colleagues as well as having it checked by a co-worker instead of a superior. This will also alleviate micromanagement.
- CUSTOM TRAINING. We will create a training roadmap for all members. At the beginning of a semester, each team member will make a list of new abilities or knowledge he/she wants to gain, related to their position. This will be contrasted with managers forecast for future projects and strategies, creating an alignment and gathering resources to plan these customized trainings. Simultaneously, managers will include new internal lessons every month for specific tasks, like project reporting or information research techniques.
- SCRUM ADAPTATION. SCRUM is a well-known and impactful agile methodology, which is hardly applicable outside software developers. Thus, we plan to create a customization of SCRUM (combined with KANBAN) to carry out our hardware developments and consultancy services (defining roles at the beginning of each project, dividing its execution in sprints, using smart agile contracts, burndown charts, etc.).
- PHANTOM OPTIONS. Metrica6’s value is shared with internal and external shareholders. “Phantom Options” are those that grant access to dividends distribution but not to voting in shareholders’ meetings. We will establish a 12-month retribution system based on phantom options for all employees as an overall evaluation method of their achievements along the semester.
- FLEXIBLE SALARY & LOANS. Salaries are normally paid between days 1-10 each month. However, sometimes personnel ask for payment before a certain date (for a holiday, an unexpected expense, etc.). Thus, we will offer the option for every member in the company to get his/her monthly salary even before day 1, with a minimum compensation. Thus, personnel can manage their salary receipts as wished, up to 3 months’ advance.
You can check results on these an other actions via START AT BEST website and LinkedIn profiles. If you are implementing any workplace innovation in your company, share it with the rest of workplace innovators in our social media and make together 2021 rock!