We stress this a lot: it’s important to empower Maintenance & Operations teams so they can take our prescriptive insights and do the job that needs to get done – before it becomes a real problem. Simply put, we want to enable those on the plant floor to be proactive when it comes to maximizing their factory’s efficiency.
For this reason, Augury also uses empowered teams to build its solutions. In an interview, Augury CPTO Gal Shaul discussed his quest to completely unify Augury’s tech with its product. “And this involves creating Empowered Product Teams – as championed by people like Marty Cagan – that are able to dive deep into our customer’s problems and formulate the best solutions to deal with each particular pain point,” says Gal.
“Ultimately, we want to empower customers to make the most informed and valuable decisions – decisions that are driven by data, insight, and a holistic understanding of how they may impact their business, their people, and the environment.”
In Love With Solving Problems
“We want to give our customers the confidence, the tools and the ongoing support to tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges. Ultimately, we want to empower customers to make the most informed and valuable decisions – decisions that are driven by data, insight, and a holistic understanding of how they may impact their business, their people, and the environment,” says Gal.
“This is a cultural change that we enable for our customers, and this starts with having the right culture internally at Augury.”
“When developing our technology stack, we’re obsessed with how customers engage and the value they ultimately get. And I believe that’s where the magic happens: at the intersection of understanding customer needs and of the possibilities that technology has to offer – and then bringing these together.”
The Old-Fashioned Way: Feature Teams
“In traditional organizations, product teams are often just feature teams. These are told what to make by some stakeholder,” says Gal. “And this drives a disconnect between problem and solution.”
Feature teams are basically given roadmaps of features and projects to build. Basically, someone else has decided the solution, and it’s the team’s job to execute it. Often, the team is not even told what the underlying problem they are solving for. “As a result, they can’t be held accountable to the results,” says Gal. “And realistically this approach, while very common, does not work well. Few actually succeed.”
A New Focus on Why: Empowered Teams
While feature teams often don’t even know the “why?” behind their work, empowered teams are provided with the wider context of company goals on one end and the customer challenges on the other. And then these teams are given the autonomy to prioritize the problems worth solving and what to build.
“By giving the right balance of context and freedom to operate, they’re able to successfully solve big problems together.”
“Augury is a great example of having the right level of autonomy and toolset,” according to Gal. “And our empowered teams come up with the best ideas and processes. It’s about building cross-functional teams around a shared purpose. By giving the right balance of context and freedom to operate, they’re able to successfully solve big problems together.”
Discovery: Is It Valuable, Usable, Feasible and Viable?
“When you give a cross-functional team of very smart, creative and mission-driven people a problem to solve, they will come up with a better solution than anyone else,” says Gal. “And once they think the problem is solved and they build the feature and it doesn’t work, there is no ‘We’ll ship the feature anyway’ or ‘It’s not our fault’. Since they’re accountable, they will keep trying until it works or they find a better solution to deal with the problem.”
Basically, the empowered team approach puts a whole other layer into the job of product development. “Now their job is not just to code. Their job is to first solve. And that’s discovery: where they come up with a solution that’s valuable, usable, feasible and viable. And then of course, they have to build a quality implementation of the minimal viable product of that solution and ship it. So that’s a much broader job,” says Gal.
“And you have to get it right. Otherwise you end up with all this stuff no one uses.”
Eliminating The Ampersands In Both R&D And M&O
Augury’s empowered product teams build tools to maximize the efficiency of factories – throughout the whole production process. And ideally, this involves erasing the ampersand between Maintenance & Operations teams. Only by unifying these once universally separate departments can you create cohesive cross-functional teams that not only solve problems but collaboratively dig into the root causes so they can be eliminated permanently.
“It used to be that as a maintenance person, the person on the process side was sometimes your worst enemy. Now you can tackle the bigger problems together,” says Gal.
“You are no longer the coder. You are no longer the maintenance person. Both of you are now an active part of the full production process.”
A New Way Of Working
“And the hardest part about this is not the technology, it’s about helping people see new ways of working. It’s about helping people understand that now they can work differently than they did yesterday. And most people really want to be a larger contributor,” says Gal.
“You are no longer the coder. You are no longer the maintenance person. Both of you are now an active part of the full production process. And this sort of autonomy drives engagement – and it doesn’t matter if it’s in our R&D department or the factory floor.”