Women in Leadership, Boehringer Ingelheim
10 July 2018
Jacqueline Berlin

Agile methods help find solutions to complex problems

Digitalization is currently revolutionizing all industries, including the pharmaceutical industry. The processes of today will look very different tomorrow, as boundaries between products and services blur. To prepare for this and develop new processes and offerings, we need the agility and dynamism to identify complex problems and find creative solutions while maintaining a focus on customer value.

 

As of September 2018, the Boehringer Ingelheim headquarters in Ingelheim will have a building dedicated to precisely this: The BI CUBE, where agile methods will be used to develop innovative ideas into tangible products. With 700 square meters of floor space, the BI CUBE will support agile working across all functions and provide a framework to foster creativity, with guidance from a team of „Agile Methods Facilitators“ made up of twelve colleagues from Ingelheim, Biberach and Dortmund who are training to do just this.

Agile working methods are at the heart of the BI CUBE. How it works: At the start of the process, intensive user surveys and analyses are conducted to identify the problem. Once the core of the problem has been identified, the interdisciplinary teams use creative methods, such as design thinking for example, to develop new ideas. This involves constructing simple prototypes to give substance to the solutions. In the next step, users test these visualizations and provide feedback. This often brings new elements into the mix or results in things being changed or even discarded. A new version of the solution is then developed based on the feedback and again subjected to testing. These cycles of analysis, idea generation, implementation, and testing typically take between two and four weeks.

 

This agile approach, which responds swiftly and promptly to the needs of the user, has the major advantage of putting a focus on the essentials and supporting a more customer and user-driven approach to product development. It therefore caters more closely to user requirements than conventional methods.

 

Twelve colleagues from Ingelheim, Biberach and Dortmund are currently training to become „Agile Methods Facilitators“. In line with the interdisciplinary nature of the role, they hail from various departments: Internal Consulting, HR, Medical, ISEE, and Internal Communications. They are already in the starting blocks for the next wave of training after the summer break.

 

Angelika Nobbmann, who heads the global Organizational Effectiveness team at Boehringer Ingelheim, is one of the trainees. “The training is a way of ensuring that the methods and approaches we employ in Organizational Development also remain up to date.”

 

In five modules each lasting between three and four days, the facilitators learn everything they need to know about the new methods and how to support colleagues in the workshops. The training focuses on practical application. “Don’t talk, do” is the mantra of Dark Horse, one of Germany’s most in-demand innovation agencies, which is training the „Agile Methods Facilitators“ at Boehringer Ingelheim.

 

In the first two modules, participants worked on fictional projects to become acquainted with the methods. In the third module, which is currently ongoing, they are gaining initial experience in their future roles as facilitators and, in August, they will start their first agile workshops on specific topics. Their experiences will be used in the design of the introduction and training programme, which is also currently being developed with the trainees in an agile way.

 

“What I particularly liked, in addition to the opportunity for continued learning, was the consistent involvement of customers in product or service development, through the design thinking approach for example,” sums up Angelika Nobbmann. “By considering customer requirements every step of the way, we can confidently dedicate our time and resources to value creation and thus turn our full focus to customer value. This helps both the customer and us.”

"By considering customer requirements every step of the way, we can confidently dedicate our time and resources to value creation and thus turn our full focus to customer value!, says Angelika Nobbmann. "
Jacqueline Berlin
Agile Coaches Boehringer Ingelheim
Twelve colleagues from Ingelheim, Biberach and Dortmund are currently training to become „Agile Methods Facilitators“. In line with the interdisciplinary nature of the role, they hail from various departments: Internal Consulting, HR, Medical, ISEE, and Internal Communications. They are already in the starting blocks for the next wave of training after the summer break.

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