Organization at NIRA: Autonomy and agility is key

Two strong, experience-based beliefs:
There is no such thing as a perfect organization. Reorganizing is always a pain.

Even though you try to be inclusive and transparent in the process. It is a pain because on one hand it is always urgent, because a reorganization implies that everything changes, everything from how your financial system is set up to how information that is required in the business flows. Therefore, you cannot stay in between two organizations a long time. On the other hand, you need time to collect input from coworkers, and you need to inform everyone on what is happening.

In the beginning of 2018, we completely changed how to run the operations in Linköping. One of our cornerstones in NIRA is agility, we want to be able to decide and act fast. The old organization was rigged perfectly for the development and sales of our tire pressure monitoring system. But when our business within road perception grew, the old organization became dysfunctional. Road perception business is completely different from our vehicle onboard analytics business. Some of the vehicle on board technical components are common, but there are so many differences: Cloud computations, road maintenance authorities as customers, climate model suppliers involved, etc.

The main principle was – how can we maintain autonomy and agility? The question was put out to all employees in Linköping, what are the drawbacks with the organization at that time and how would we like to be organized. The answer was almost unanimous, we need to organize around our products. We therefore established two business units with large autonomy, Vehicle Onboard Analytics and Road Perception. The Test Department and DevOps became units that serve all.

To combat the fact that now the synergies having common parts of technology in several products could disappear, we were influenced by Spotifiy’s concept of Guilds, that is, loose informal networks that run cross the complete organization. As we said in the beginning, there is no such thing as a perfect organization, but you can always strive for perfection in the situation you are in right now.