Customer Success

Success with agile and lean at The Ocean Cleanup

QUINT'S ASSIGNMENT

To advise The Ocean Cleanup about agile and lean practices that would help make the organization more flexible and allow it to identify risks earlier. This would enable The Ocean Cleanup to realize its ambitious goals more effectively.

“There’s no frame of reference for cleaning up the ocean, so we go into the field and learn while implementing. An important aspect of this is that we constantly dare to challenge ourselves – and each other – but we also need a feedback mechanism for passing on what we learn to our teams.”

Henk van Dalen, Director Ocean, The Ocean Cleanup

2013

year of foundation

95

employees

15

billion of euros of annual cost of plastic pollution

About The Ocean Cleanup

There is far too much plastic floating in our oceans. This is bad for our planet and is endangering more than 600 different animal species. The Ocean Cleanup is determined to solve this problem. Under the motto “The Largest Cleanup in History”, the nonprofit organization has two goals: to remove and recycle millions of kilos of plastic from the oceans and to prevent new plastic from entering the oceans via rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup is working towards its goals by developing systems that remove large amounts of plastic from oceans and rivers. This plastic is recycled and used to make new products that can be sold to generate additional funds. It’s ambitious and important work that requires master problem solvers and demands the development and use of innovative technologies, all coupled with relentless perseverance.

Key Challenge

Agility and flexibility are important to The Ocean Cleanup. They enable the company to respond quickly to new opportunities and to deal intelligently with sudden problems and challenges. That’s why agile working was introduced into the organization when the transition was made from start-up to scale-up. But agile working proved difficult with an end product that is used thousands of miles from the mainland, goals that are primarily based on the long term and a definition of done with an extremely high quality level.

Within The Ocean Cleanup, the question thus arose as to how agile the organization actually was after its extremely rapid growth, and whether there was too much bureaucracy and a lack of overview. Quint was asked to take an objective look at the organization to see how the agile way of working could be better implemented. The aim was to facilitate a better response to sudden problems and to make risks transparent and manageable – without losing focus on the long-term goals.

The Approach

Quint interviewed employees from the three operating departments: Ocean, Rivers and Valorization. Each department was using its own working method and had its own dynamic and timelines. Based on the interviews, the current situation and way of working within The Ocean Cleanup’s organization were mapped out. During the interviews, new insights into and agreements on the way of working had already emerged, and the dynamic between the people in the various departments had been stimulated.

The Results

Using the interviews for input, Quint made a number of recommendations regarding how to improve the way of working. The most important recommendations related to ensuring a connection between long- and short-term planning cycles, analyzing processes (based on value stream mapping) and introducing what is known as ensuring “quality at the source”.

Using the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) tool, The Ocean Cleanup identified the potential risks of its Ocean products. Working in this way helped The Ocean Cleanup to more quickly identify processes and risks that need to be prioritized, so that it is clear earlier which specific aspects need to be given priority for a successful outcome. Quint supported The Ocean Cleanup in optimizing the FMEA tool and the related maintenance process. Now, when new systems are under development, not only are the possible risks now clearer, but the effect of mitigating risks is also clearly mapped out in terms of reduced risks. This means there is less chance of delays or unexpected problems.

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