Most of the case studies we discussed went through how companies effectively use scrum to develop products. This case study is particularly exciting since a student team called “Blue Flash” used Scrum and Kanban to build a race car for the annual international competition.
Blue Flash Mobility Concepts is part of the University of Applied Science and Arts Hildesheim/ Holzminden/ Göttingen. Every year a team of students participates in the Formula Student Germany (FCG)competition. It’s a competition between teams around the world where students build formula cars. It is not the fastest car that wins the international design competition, but also about the best construction, performance, finance, and sales planning.
Blue Flash Team Challenge:
Multiple departments across the University are involved in this project, including students and volunteers. Therefore, leadership changing annually, resulted in an organizational structure that was very hierarchical and rapidly changing. With 35 team members, Blue Flash was composed of many small teams of 1-4 people, resulting in communication and team collaboration difficulties. In particular, this manifested itself in the fact that many teams worked independently in silos. Although Kanban was used at the management level but within teams, no one wanted to take responsibility. Despite the fact that the team leaders had to work 60 hours/per week, they needed to work together more effectively to build trust and transparency across teams.
Moving to the Agile Way of Working:
In March 2020 they adopted the Agile way of working. In order to improve cross-team collaboration and empower the teams, they decided to use Scrum. Their sponsor hosted an agile kick-off meeting where they met their agile coach who agreed to help them. He worked with them for about 6 months in his spare time and held several workshops over the weekends. In addition, this encouraged several team members to take the next step toward Scrum Certification.
They decided to build two Scrum teams. Besides working remotely, they had to reduce team members. Selecting fewer team members with appropriate skills and personalities helped them become self-organized. There were 13 developers, one Scrum Master on each team, and one shared Product Owner. For Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Daily Scrum they used Kanban.
A team consisting of volunteers and sponsors, the Blue Flash had to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Due to the shift in priorities during COVID-19, half of the team changed. It was only through the adaptation of Scrum that they were one of the teams able to build a race car. During Scrum Events, teams were able to collaborate and eventually work together on campus when the University eased the lockdown. Sprint Review and Daily Scrum helped with progress and scope.
They also used Retrospectives to inspect and adapt the technology as well as share ideas. Having set goals together as a team, the team showed increased motivation and the overall quality of their work improved. Furthermore, the process of re-prioritizing and working through sprints to deliver value created a continuous learning environment.