BASF x

The Agile Challenge

The Leadership of the Future Powered by HR

AGILE METHODOLOGIES DRIVE TALENT, LEADERSHIP, AND HUMAN RESOURCES

BASF is the world's largest chemical company.

With a DNA based on science and innovation, they create chemistry for a sustainable future. The approximately 110,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of their customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world and combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility.

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Eva Gol, educational manager of the Agile Challenge Program, talks to Rosa Marsal, Talent & Culture Manager with BASF Spain, who explains the role of HR in driving talent, leadership and agile methodologies by the program co-developed with ActioGlobal®: The Agile Challenge (Desafío Agile).

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

At a time when there is a battle for talent in all sectors, it is crucial for HR departments to identify the great potential in our organizations, the people who are capable of making a significant impact on the future of our companies, who are eager to develop and take on new responsibilities.

However, discovering these talents in the pipeline is only the first step. It is necessary to develop their skills. This is why BASF has partnered with ActioGlobal to launch the Agile Challenge Program for their junior employees.

As part of this program, four teams made up of Emerging Talents developed projects that you have considered essential for BASF and presented the results to a jury: none other than the Management Board. What was your purpose behind this corporate "intra-entrepreneurship" program?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

We regard the company's Emerging Talents as the generation that will take the reins of many of the teams at BASF in the future and, consequently, will be key to the future steps and style of leadership in our company. They are not only defined by their performance or outstanding results already today, but also by their identification with BASF's values, by their willingness and motivation to take on responsibilities and new challenges with self-confidence and seek to learn fast and deliver results in new, different and changing environments.

With the Agile Challenge, we pursued a threefold purpose:

On the one hand, to turn their talent into exceptional talent. How? Well, by helping them develop generic skills, such as leadership and communication skills, as well as high-performance technical competencies based on Agile principles and mindset that would empower them to deliver the best results.

On the other hand, to promote innovation as an essential part of BASF's culture and to offer them the tools and space to develop innovative ideas in the scope of simplification, collaboration, social responsibility and customer orientation. Quite a challenge! Hence the name Agile Challenge.

Moreover, building each team or squad with people from different workplaces, different areas, different backgrounds ... highlights that diversity in teams always leads to better and more innovative results. Different perspectives and experiences working towards the same purpose.

metodologias agiles recursos humanos
metodologias agiles recursos humanos
metodologias agiles recursos humanos

THESE EMERGING TALENTS TELL US ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES

Josep Ramon Guinovart Solé
Planning and Procurement Officer BASF

Josep Ramon Guinovart is one of the Emerging Talents selected by BASF for participating in the Agile Challenge Program to develop the leadership skills of the future.

In today's dynamic and complex environment, the Agile Challenge Program has taught us how to manage projects much more efficiently.

Working in different teams with colleagues from different areas and departments has made us realize how important it is to be responsive to change, to put people at the center and to provide added value to the customer as the basis for project delivery.

All this, combined with a personal development program, has empowered us to tackle the challenges we will face on our career path in an agile way.

HR'S ROLE IN TRAINING THE LEADERS OF THE FUTURE WITH AGILE METHODOLOGIES

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

So we could state that the program has been focused on enabling them develop key competencies in a future that, as of today, is totally uncertain. From your point of view, what competencies will leaders of organizations need in the future?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

We believe that leaders must possess the following core competencies for the future of work:

Ability to adapt to a volatile and uncertain environment

Ability to continuously learn and problem solving

Leadership and self-leadership

Entrepreneurship and innovative thinking

Agility and flexibility

Resilience, as you don't always get it right the first time and iteration requires a good dose of self-improvement and resilience.

metodologias agiles recursos humanos

FUTURE OF WORK, LEADERSHIP AND AGILITY - A PRIORITY FOR THE HR TEAM

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

Really interesting. Competencies very much in line with those that shape what is known as New Work and that change the rules of the game regarding the relationship and the journey of people in the organization. You spoke earlier about the importance of learning leadership skills, how important it is for leaders to develop their role as a leader in the right way? To what extent has it influenced you to work on leadership in parallel with technical skills?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

Leadership marks all the difference and the results in a work team. We wanted them to get away from any vice of "micromanagement" and to learn to understand their team so that they could drive the team members to do their best, united and committed to their common objectives. In addition, they also learn models of shared leadership and working by strengths and motivations.

The new leadership is rather about identifying the challenges to reach the next level and empowering self-organized teams to deliver solutions.

In fact, they are naturally influential, extroverted young people, capable of generating interpersonal relationships based on the confidence that they will lead their peers to achieve common objectives because they want to make a positive impact on the world. But, in order to lead, it is very important that they have a deep self-awareness and that they empathize to the maximum with each person in their team to propose innovative ideas, translate them into actions and overcome obstacles in an effective way.


Our participants had to learn to be leaders with a dual mission: to inspire their team and drive their execution.

metodologias agiles recursos humanos
metodologias agiles recursos humanos
Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

Does this mean that they have also learned to develop their role as coaches or mentors to the teams?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

Absolutely. So what we did

together with ActioGlobal was to also train a group of internal mentors in whom they could see themselves reflected in the future.

Each talent was assigned an internal mentor, an experienced person at BASF to whom we gave the tools to accompany them on this journey and offer advice on how to face the challenges that came up, helping them manage their own emotions, doubts and concerns.

metodologias agiles recursos humanos
metodologias agiles recursos humanos

HR STATES CLEARLY: IMPACT OVER ACTIVITY. AGILITY IN THE SERVICE OF THE COMPANY.

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

In terms of personal growth, it sounds absolutely motivating. You were saying, earlier, how important it was to drive the execution of the teams, to drive them to achieve results. What changes have you observed in this respect?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

Their skills in this respect have become very remarkable, especially when they started to organize their teams and quickly moved from strategic thinking to action.

The big change they have undergone with " Agile Challenge" has not been methodological. It is obvious that they have learned to implement agile tools, but there has been a fundamental change in mindset: they have learned to focus on IMPACT. Not what is done, but whether the results or changes are achieved they were aiming for.

The focus is not on the activities, but on the impacts they create.

They implemented OKR (Objectives and Key Results), put them into practice by breaking them down to the backlog, measuring progress, experimenting, learning and iterating, putting their hearts and minds into achieving their objectives, but always with a forward-looking focus on what really mattered.

And now they are challenged to become pollinators in their respective units, transferring this approach and methodology to their day-to-day work to infect their colleagues with the agile spirit.

THESE EMERGING TALENTS TELL US ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES

Bruna Rovira Robert
QM Specialist BASF

Bruna Rovira is one of the Emerging Talents selected by BASF for participating in the Agile Challenge Program to develop the leadership skills of the future

Participating in the Agile Challenge Program was indeed a great challenge!

We learned to work in a team whose members had not known each other before and who came from different departments with different backgrounds. We applied the best agile practices that we had never used in our "daily work".

Thanks to the excellent coordination work between the team members, the solid role of the sponsor and agile coach at the group level and mentor at the individual level, as well as the new way of working with Agile, the final project was very rewarding. It was undoubtedly a very demanding few months, but the experience was extremely positive and enriching!

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

It seems too perfect, were they never wrong, were there not obstacles, conflicts or challenges that got in their way?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

Certainly, in every sprint, and I think in the beginning you even suffer a little bit until you find the right way that adds value to the project. But at BASF, we also want to foster a culture where people can take risks and learn, because in order to learn, sometimes you have to make mistakes, and you also have to allow yourself to make mistakes and then reconsider.

On this journey, we had to put the participants in front of the challenge in an unknown field, with the risk of making mistakes, but without fear and without allowing it to affect them negatively. Rather, it should serve as a way of self-questioning and open up a whole field of new questions. This is why we discussed earlier how important resilience is.

Through an individual action plan, they became aware of the difficulties and this enhanced their ability to think about what they could improve themselves. They have gained self-confidence, motivation and learned to listen to other team members and incorporate their perspective, always.

This spirit of innovation, learning, co-creation and also fun that we have generated with the program, when everyone has collaborated as a true team, is key to their future and to making a difference with our culture at BASF.

We are very proud to have realized this initiative together with ActioGlobal and we will repeat it and expect to attract new talent to our organization.

THE BASF HR TEAM PUTS AGILITY AT THE SERVICE OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE FUTURE

Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

How would you characterize this experience in one word?

Rosa Marsal
Talent & Culture Manager · BASF Spain

It is difficult to summarize so much in one word, it is an experience that you have to have lived by yourself.

The Agile Challenge means

innovation
Eva Gol
Head of Culture & Customer Success · ActioGlobal®

Thank you so much Rosa, for explaining the importance of developing the talent that we so often have in our organization and all we need to do is motivate them and give them the space to flourish. Thank you to the entire BASF team for the trust you have placed in us.

We look forward to welcoming you to the next issue!

FAQ

Agile Methodologies in HR are helpful in two ways: first, they help develop a more focused and responsive team that adds value to the business, and second, they help build a more powerful, agile, and dynamic organization that can respond to the changing needs of customers.
Scrum is one of the Agile Methodologies that can help HR develop self-organization within the team to meet the needs of human growth in the business teams and functions of the company.
Agile teams, both in the organization and in HR, are self-organizing teams that focus on delivering what the customers need, while being able to respond to their ever changing needs. Agile teams continuously learn and reflect on how to be more effective in order to change as necessary and improve.
Scrum can have the same importance as any other Agile Methodology that helps the HR team self-organize. The greatest benefit is gained when it is incorporated into the OKR so that the self-organization is securely built to deliver on a clearly defined value proposition.

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