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How cross-company knowledge sharing has improved our work

By Marina Bellenzier
Marina Bellenzier
A great believer in the Continuous Improvement process for any context of our lives. Passionate about Agile and Gucci.
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How cross-company knowledge sharing has improved our work
As Agile Coaches, we are responsible for helping Farfetch to identify problems and find solutions focused on the value it delivers, with quality, in a process of continuous improvement. We know that sharing knowledge across the company is crucial for the optimisation of Farfetch’s world-class platform. However, it can be difficult for large businesses to share information across the whole company, especially in our case where we have the challenge of communicating across 13 offices around the world.

The role of Agile Coaches started with a small scope and focused on developing the processes of information sharing between our offices in Porto and Lisbon. Small steps to further improve our approach to collaboration resulted in some brilliant results that impacted the entire organisation.

As Agile Coaches, our core belief is "to value people and interactions over processes and tools”. With that in mind, we started to build on our cross-company knowledge sharing efforts by setting up a weekly meeting between the two Agile Coaches in Porto and Lisbon who were driving the knowledge sharing project. This provided a great face-to-face opportunity for both offices to share information, adapt projects and take urgent decisions in real time.

The first meeting was focused on identifying how the teams related in their daily work to other teams and this work was intertwined. However, as our mantra is people over process, we realised an even better way to understand the similarities and differences was to "swap shoes". We created "swaps" where once a month we would run each other’s coaching sessions. This provided a unique insight into the pain points and work approaches of each team as well as widening the opportunity to come up with creative solutions to our business problems.

Even still it wasn’t enough, and we knew we had to take things one step further which could only be done by holding a face to face meeting. This change in strategy evolved into a two- day visit by the Porto team to the Lisbon office. First, the Agile Coaches aligned the strategy with Engineering Managers and then three more teams were involved and the snowball continued until we had five teams and around thirty people. Having all these Farfetchers on board drove the pillars of communication, collaboration and transparency which were the foundations of this sharing.

Day one of the session was about getting to know each other. We established teamwork through an ice breaker using the "Marshmallow Challenge” - a task often used by Agile Coaches to help build teamwork and collaboration. It involves teams being given marshmallows and sticks and competing against the clock to build the tallest tower. On day two Lisbon and Porto teams were paired together to share knowledge and align expectations for the next quarter’s initiatives. These conversations enabled the Agile Coaches to get new perspectives on approaching work as well as a better understanding of problems and how to facilitate and help teams in discovering new methods.

By evolving our knowledge sharing project from a once a week meeting to a two- day workshop with around thirty people, we achieved three key results:
  • Inspired others to share knowledge across the company. We presented the journey to all the Agile Coaches and encouraged them to do the same in their work.
  • Proved that cross-company knowledge sharing is beneficial. After the Lisbon workshop we sent out a survey to the attendees and 100% of respondents agreed that the experience was helpful and should be done more often.
  • The tech teams from our Porto office created a new Farfetch Training program. The workshop discussions identified the need for a new Farfetch training program to facilitate Engineers to learn how to run and write tests for JavaScript and React Applications using Jest.

Farfetch is a company with burgeoning teams scattered across the globe. This means the need for establishing effective communications is even more important than ever. Our Agile Coaching experiment takes Farfetch a step closer to establishing our team's blueprint for effective technical communications.

This article was written by Agile Coach Marina Bellenzier in collaboration with Lead Agile Coach Rui Martins.

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