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How to Scrum: 5 Tips from Karsten Breit

Published 28. Jul 2021 in Company Insights
How to Scrum: 5 Tips from Karsten Breit

Karsten Breit is the Head of Engineering – Production & Supply Chain at Spread Group. Initially, he was skeptical about the framework of scrum. Despite several workshops with external trainers, the business informatics graduate was unconvinced that the agile process model was anything more than a hyped and short-lived trend. It was not until a workshop with Jeff Sutherland, the co-founder of scrum, that Karsten experienced a revelation. Sutherland sees an agile mindset as the core of his framework, roles and rituals, on the other hand, as changeable tools. Karsten has now been working in software development at Spread Group for more than 15 years and is continuously expanding upon the framework as a certified Scrum Master.


To introduce scrum successfully and according to plan, one should first look at the whole organization. Is it acceptable for the team to work without a hard deadline due to the uncertain environment? And is it okay to fail with some ideas? Then scrum could be a good model for internal projects – and product management, says Karsten Breit. Anyone can train to become a Scrum Master. It is important for someone in the role to think analytically, to be communicative and to be able to deal well with people.
 
1.     Question everything

Scrum thrives on further development. Since it is used in areas where the end result is not exactly predictable, changes are part of the project. In review meetings and retrospectives, work results and new suggestions should be critically discussed. “Scrum thrives on continuous improvement, in which we arrive at our goal through numerous, incremental changes. The quality and efficiency of the products are greatly improved as a result,” says Breit.
 
2.     Trust your team

Not every manager can get used to the fact that failure is a part of agile work. They should not succumb to the temptation to exert more control over their employees. An excessive focus on detail takes away the momentum and causes team members to reorient themselves in the long term, as Breit explains: “Mutual trust is also the basis for our retrospective meetings. In them, every team member gives honest feedback on the last sprint. As Scrum Master, I take the feedback seriously and consider it for our next sprint.

3.     Work on your scrum
 
Part of an agile process model, like scrum, is adapting roles and rituals to be project specific. “Since our stakeholders are internationally distributed, we recorded our reviews as video clips for a while. But that was quite costly due to the post-production. We later decided to blog and have since published our sprint summary and an outlook as posts,” says Breit.
 
4.     Ensure transparency

A Scrum Master can strengthen the basis of trust within their team and the organization with the help of transparent documentation, as Breit confirms: “I recommend openly preparing project progress and addressing it to the appropriate people. In addition to a blog, joint review meetings are also possibly. Such ‘interim reports’ will also give you tailwind for the next sprints.
 
5.     Communicate a lot (and regularly)
 
The rituals in scrum are deliberately timed tightly. In daily scrums and sprint reviews, nothing should remain unspoken, if possible, that could stand in the way of the project’s progress. “We hold team meetings twice a week and use a lot of visualizations in our meetings, such as workflow charts and diagrams, to create a common understanding of the tasks at hand. These formats have translated easily to digital tools during the remote working period,” explains Breit.
 
 

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Silke Möller

Silke Möller

Corporate Communications Specialist

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How to Scrum: 5 Tips from Anna-Karoline Abraham

Published 21. Jul 2021 in Company Insights
How to Scrum: 5 Tips from Anna-Karoline Abraham

Scrum has become the industry standard in software companies, as the framework scores with high flexibility, effectiveness and transparency in IT projects. But an agile mindset, the basis of every scrum framework, can also enrich project work outside the IT industry, finds Anna-Karoline Abraham, Product Management Lead at Spread Group. As a certified Product Owner, Anna-Karoline Abraham has been working on digital products from initial vision to realization for over six years.

“My job is to understand the ‘why?’ behind the user problem and act as a mediator between IT, business and the user to derive the ‘what’ from it. Our developers, on the other hand, are responsible for the ‘how?’. A good product owner should have an agile mindset, be empathetic and structured, and be able to communicate well. And they should have no problem saying “no” clearly,” says Anna-Karoline Abraham. According to her, there is no perfect career path to becoming a product owner: Spread Group’s product owners have very different degrees – from business administration to computer science to mechanical engineering. Anna-Karoline Abraham herself studied media production, took computer science modules and already worked as a student trainee at Spreadshirt in product management.
 
1.     Find your scrum variant

If you are dealing with scrum for the first time, you will quickly come across the official “Scrum Guide,” in which the most important elements are summarized. However, it is also mentioned there that these can be adapted, but then it is no longer scrum. “I think it should be possible to be agile here as well. It’s about trying something out, evaluating it and adapting it if necessary. The team should be able to work together productively – that’s more important than formalities. For example, we work without a Scrum Master, but for us, collaboration still works well. We regularly reflect on our processes, often simply try out a different approach and see what works for us and what doesn’t,” says Anna-Karoline Abraham.
 
2.     Pay attention to effective team sizes

The maximum team size in scrum is often stated as eight people in order to work together effectively within the framework. Anna-Karoline Abraham, on the other hand, has learned to appreciate even smaller teams: “I have had the best experiences with teams of four to five developers and me as the product owner. The advantage here is clearly the short communication channels: Coordination loops among five people run much faster.”

3.     Create a common understanding
 
When introducing scrum, which is often driven by management, it is important to talk about expectations and goals. “Employees should be given the chance to understand and internalize what scrum is actually about. Likewise, it should be communicated what is hoped for from the introduction, how to get there and how to determine afterwards whether you were successful with the project. When introducing new processes, it is equally important to understand that the process itself should live and not simply exist overnight,” says Anna-Karoline Abraham.
 
4.     Test out new tools

Two whiteboards still hang in her office, but in the wake of increased remote working, her team has switched entirely to digital tools. “We’ve discovered Miro over that time, and we use the application frequently for workshops or to record ideas, diagrams and workflows. Even though some of us are slowly moving back to the office, Miro will certainly stay with us for these tasks.”
 
5.     Accept unpredictability
 
For us, the focus is on results, not hard deadlines. We are absolutely aware that it is impossible to name a deadline for completion in advance. Since you plan continuously in scrum, unexpected delays become visible more quickly and planning becomes more realistic, as Anna-Karoline Abraham describes: “We set ourselves shorter planning cycles in the form of two-week sprints, which has the advantage that we can react more quickly if we need to correct our course. In addition, scrum enables good communication. The daily exchange that takes place in the form of a short stand-up in the teams is incredibly important and good for making progress as well as for trust and transparency in the projects.”
 
 

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Silke Möller

Silke Möller

Corporate Communications Specialist

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Information Regarding the Cyber-Attack on Spread Group

Published 12. Jul 2021 in Company

Spread Group was the target of an organized cyber-attack which was carried out with considerably vicious criminal intent. The unidentified perpetrators managed to break through the company’s high security standards and access internal data, including the addresses and contractual data of customers, partners, employees, and external suppliers.

Also affected are the payment details of a small number of customers who made payments to Spreadshirt, Spreadshop or TeamShirts via bank transfer, or who have received a refund via bank transfer. According to the latest information from our investigations, the bank details of any other customers were not saved on any of the hacked servers.

In addition, the bank account numbers and PayPal addresses of partners who have received commission payments from Spread Group were also affected.

Spread Group has proactively contacted everyone who has been affected informing them of the incident. We highly recommend those affected to change the passwords of their accounts with us.

The company’s crisis team is working with external cyber-security specialists to systematically investigate these events. We have also informed the relevant authorities about this incident.

Our day-to-day operations have not been impacted by this incident. All our systems are up and running as normal. Spread Group is fully able to produce and deliver orders.

We will keep this post updated as well as a dedicated help page as soon as more information is available.

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Eike Adler

Eike Adler

Director Corporate Communications

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Spread Group Announces Security Incident

Published 08. Jul 2021 in Company

Spread Group faced a security incident and has immediately taken all necessary technical and organizational steps to ensure its data security following a recent incident. The details behind this incident are currently under investigation.

Data security is of highest importance and we are currently running an extensive investigation into the this incident’s background and impact. It is currently not clear what data might have been compromised. Spread Group is working closely with external security consultants and has been in contact with the authorities.

Our business operations were not affected by this incident and all systems are running without incident.

We will keep this post updated as well as a dedicated help page as soon as more information is available.

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Eike Adler

Eike Adler

Director Corporate Communications

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Sylvia Thiele

Published 07. Jul 2021 in Company Responsibility
CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Sylvia Thiele

Sylvia Thiele holds one of Spread Group’s most important key positions to promote sustainability across the entire company. As the Head of Supply Chain Management EU, she and her team are responsible for the sustainable alignment of company-wide procurement of processes and supply chains. Building a continuously improved supply chain that takes equal account of economic, environmental, and social aspects is a complex challenge that Sylvia Thiele takes on with a great deal of passion and expertise.

Spread Group: How do you define sustainability?

Sylvia Thiele: Social aspects are particularly important to me, as they are often neglected in sustainability debates. Child labor, for example, is still a major issue in Asia, which I am also confronted with in my work. Of course, we categorically reject child labor and only conclude contracts with producers who demonstrably do not employ minors. As a mother, I am personally concerned that so many children are deprived of their childhood and – due to the lack of time for school – also of their future. The issue of plastic is of great concern to me, both professionally and privately. There is still far too much plastic in circulation that is not 100 percent degradable. The new EU law against the use of single-use plastic is a good start that we should build on.

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Sylvia Thiele: I’m pragmatic. Wherever I’m offered a sustainable alternative, I integrate it into my everyday life. I always buy vegetables and eggs locally and always have a tote bag with me so that I don’t have to use plastic bags. But it’s more difficult when it comes to mobility. I live outside Leipzig and need my car every day because the poor connections with public transport don’t allow for anything else.

Spread Group: What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?

Sylvia Thiele: We have already implemented a large number of different projects in the areas of supply-chain optimization, packaging, and procurement. I would first like to highlight our own organic collection. As a best-practice project, we have developed it according to BSCI standards that go far beyond the minimum legal requirements in the supply chain. Their organic cotton is produced in Turkey and processed locally in a nearby factory. The supply chain is as short as it can be. Our standard collection has an even longer supply chain because we source the cotton from India, among other places, and have it processed in Bangladesh.

I have known some of our producers and suppliers for many years and visit them regularly on site. In addition to our Code of Conduct that lays down the cornerstone of our cooperation, these meetings are particularly important to me. I want to get a first-hand impression of the production, the dyeing plant, and the logistics partners. Last year, I was unable to travel there due to the pandemic, but we found another way and now speak to each other even more regularly on the phone.

Spread Group:
What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?

Sylvia Thiele: We will continue to work on using our packaging in an environmentally conscious way. Whenever possible, we reuse our packaging so that, for example, we ship our drinking bottles in the same boxes as they are delivered to us. Our goal remains the 100 percent mark for green packaging. To achieve this, we are currently taking a close look at everything, from outer packaging to our parcel tapes.

At the moment, we still have to pack our products in plastic, as the requirements of our logistics partners for shipping don’t allow any other type of packaging. However, we are currently investigating whether there are any greener alternatives that also comply with our partners’ safety regulations. With around 9.8 million products printed and shipped every year, this could save us an enormous amount of plastic! Wherever possible, we already omit outer packaging. We put several products in one large bag instead of several small ones, which saves vast amounts of plastic. For our European customers, we have been using boxes that do not require additional adhesive tape for small to medium-sized packaging for some time now.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to delve further into the topic of “sustainability”?

Sylvia Thiele: Find out more about the products you want to buy. To avoid losing your bearings in the jungle of certificates, I can e.g. recommend the Siegelklarheit.de website (in German). It offers a good overview of the most common certificates and can also be downloaded as an app to your cell phone. And exchange ideas with like-minded people! I like getting inspired by others.

Spread Group: Thank you very much for the interview, Sylvia.

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Silke Möller

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Follow-up: The radioeins gallery moves into Bikini Berlin

Published 29. Jun 2021 in Brands Company
Follow-up: The radioeins gallery moves into Bikini Berlin

Spreadshop and Berlin radio station radioeins are putting artwork by Berlin artists on T-shirts. The “radioeins gallery” campaign has just opened an exhibition in Berlin’s Bikini shopping center.

At the beginning of May, the virtual “radioeins gallery” was launched (click here for the news article). The joint campaign by Spreadshop and Berlin radio station radioeins is helping Berlin artists through the pandemic by printing their artwork on T-shirts. The “art to wear”, as the campaign website puts it, is available for purchase in the radio station’s shop.

Now the online gallery is coming to the offline world and can be experienced in an exhibition space in Berlin’s Bikini shopping center in Charlottenburg. Over the summer months, the T-shirts can be admired as canvases in a pop-up box. On site, visitors can order their favorite T-shirts directly to their homes via QR code in the online store of the radioeins gallery. Spreadshop takes care of the printing and shipping of the products.

We are happy that we can take our joint campaign to another level and that the gallery can now be seen in a real exhibition space. As a result, the artwork on T-shirts will gain even more attention and a much larger audience,” says Johanna Wallburg, Key Account Manager at Spreadshop.

Follow-up: The radioeins gallery moves into Bikini Berlin
“This is art. It can’t go!” is the message on radioeins’ campaign website

The proceeds from the sale of the radioeins gallery Spreadshop will be used to support artists in the pandemic. The following Berlin artists are participating in the campaign:

Franziska Maderthaner
Julia Maier
Matthias Dornfeld
Moritz Schleime
Roman Lipski
Kennet Lekko
Kim Dreyer

Detailed information about the participants, their work and their motives can be found on the website of the radioeins gallery.

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Romy-Marie Ulrich

Romy-Marie Ulrich

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Spread Group Is Awarded the Family-Friendliness Prize of the City of Leipzig

Published 24. Jun 2021 in Company Insights
Spread Group Is Awarded the Family-Friendliness Prize of the City of Leipzig

The City of Leipzig’s Family Friendliness Award has been presented for the 13th time. This year, companies and institutions were honored that showed particular commitment to the compatibility of family and career during the pandemic. In the “Retail & Distribution” category, Spread Group received the award for being a family-friendly employer.

Local companies became particularly active and also creative in the context of family friendliness during the pandemic. That was the big issue at this year’s presentation of the City of Leipzig’s Family Friendliness Award 2021. Several Leipzig businesses and institutions applied, and Spread Group can count itself among the award winners.

The compatibility of family and career is a living culture at the Spread Group. For home-schooling and home-care, parents working at the company were provided with additional technical equipment for digital lessons. Working hours can be individually timed to fit in with family situations. Strategies have been devised for online meetings to ensure that the fun factor is not neglected. Digital sports breaks, lunch lotteries or an Easter challenge are just some of the actions implemented to support the team during the pandemic. This also applied to the children: For them, special kids’ yoga classes and a kids’ disco were created,” says the current press release of the city of Leipzig.

Spread Group Is Awarded the Family-Friendliness Prize of the City of Leipzig
Burghard Jung (Mayor of Leipzig), Silvia Lauterbach (Spread Group), Vicki Felthaus (Mayor for Youth, School and Democracy), Georg Teichert (Central Equal Opportunities Officer for Equal Opportunities, Diversity and Family at the University of Leipzig) and Volkmar Müller (Managing Director LVV), from left to right, © Copyright Eric Kemnitz.

In his laudatory speech at the award ceremony, Georg Teichert, Central Equal Opportunities Officer for Equal Opportunities, Diversity and Family at the University of Leipzig, paid tribute to Spread Group: “Giving expression to messages is Spread Group’s corporate idea, and when it comes to family-friendliness, this company has a very clear plan for its employees, where home office has long been part of everyday life. The corporate culture is characterized by flat hierarchies, a willingness to engage in dialog and participation at all levels.
The jury of the Family Friendliness Award was particularly impressed by the fact that Spread Group has always thought about the children of its employees and has created (virtual) formats such as Kid’s Yoga or Kids’ Disco.
With the words “We as jury members say ‘wow’ and are thrilled by so much commitment!” Silvia Lauterbach, Head of Recruiting & Employer Branding at Spread Group, will ceremoniously hand over the certificate and the prize money. “Many thanks for this award and this great laudation! I would like to give a very special thanks to our colleagues and Spread Group’s management. They have always supported and promoted all these ideas and actions. Hopefully, we will continue to have the courage to be an innovative pioneer and inspirer,” says Silvia Lauterbach.

Spread Group’s Image of Family Friendliness

Work-life balance has been an integral part of Spread Group’s culture since the beginning. As a family-friendly employer, the company relies on 100% trust-based working hours with flexible home office options and usually no appointments after 4 pm. With a very accessible HR department, family-friendly part-time models can be agreed with the employee and implemented promptly. In addition, the company has maintained a successful cooperation with a daycare center in Leipzig for several years. Since 2011, the company’s Feel-Good Management department has also been firmly established. Among other things, it organizes yoga and meditation breaks and joint after-work events for colleagues, summer parties and hiking days, as well as children’s activities such as the kids’ disco and painting activities, all of which currently take place virtually.

Spread Group Is Awarded the Family-Friendliness Prize of the City of Leipzig
Spread Group Is Awarded the Family-Friendliness Prize of the City of Leipzig
© Copyright Eric Kemnitz

In addition to Spread Group, other Leipzig institutions and companies have been honored for their commitment as family-friendly employers. The award winners include pioneer communications GmbH, the Mütterzentrum Leipzig e.V. association and the Dr. Anita Wieser practice. Kunststoffzentrum gGmbH was also honored with the special prize of the Leipzig Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The prize of the children’s jury went to a Grünau cooperation project between the Grünau Family Center (Caritas Leipzig e.V.), Haus Steinstraße e.V. and the association dezentrale e.V. The prize was awarded in a small circle of finalists on June 18, 2021 in the LVZ dome.

To watch the award ceremony there is a video recording, which can be accessed at the following link: https://www.leipzig.de/buergerservice-und-verwaltung/unsere-stadt/auszeichnungen-und-ehrungen/familienfreundlichkeitspreis/

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Romy-Marie Ulrich

Romy-Marie Ulrich

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Gunter Nickel Takes the Helm at Spreadshirt Marketplaces

Published 09. Jun 2021 in Company Press Releases
Gunter+Nickel+Takes+the+Helm+at+Spreadshirt+Marketplaces

Spreadshirt Marketplaces will be further developed strategically and operationally under new management.

Spreadshirt Marketplaces is the brand that connects designers and customers around the world through unique products. Gunter Nickel, an experienced and fashion-savvy e-commerce manager will now be at its helm. The 44-year-old comes from the management team of the online fashion company Zalando, where he held various management positions in the board departments Strategy and Finance. With a degree in industrial engineering, he already looks back on a long consulting career at the international management consultancy A.T. Kearney, where he advised clients in various industries as an expert in growth and management issues. As an business consultant, he also acquired in-depth knowledge in the strategic support of young entrepreneurs in the Berlin startup environment.

“As Director of Spreadshirt Marketplaces, my goal is to accelerate the current growth of the business unit, and to establish the brand as a natural point of contact for buyer groups with a penchant for design. It is also important to me to reach new market segments beyond the gift buyer, such as fashion-savvy buyer groups. Our ambition must be to become the number one marketplace for creatives and to expand our product range in line with our target groups,” says Gunter Nickel, who brings over ten years of experience in market positioning and corporate strategy.

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T-shirts Worn as Canvases – Spreadshop Supports Local Artists

Published 19. May 2021 in Brands Company
T-shirts Worn as Canvases – Spreadshop Supports Local Artists

Spreadshop and Berlin-Brandenburg’s radio station “radioeins” promote Berlin’s cultural scene by printing the artwork of local artists* on T-shirts.

This is art. It can’t go!” is the message on radioeins’ campaign website. The radioeins gallery was launched to support Berlin’s artists during the pandemic of closed museums and exhibitions. Since the beginning of May, printed T-shirts with different artwork designs have been available on sale there.

Anyone can hang pictures on the wall! We wanted to take it a step further, and now you can wear a piece of art from the radioeins gallery as well,” a statement from the campaign’s initiator radioeins reads. The T-shirt paintings can be purchased in the radioeins gallery’s Spreadshop to support artists in the pandemic. “The Spreadshop will strengthen the awareness of culture and bring art to the streets. By buying and wearing the merchandise shirts, everyone can make their support visible in public spaces. We are proud to be part of this campaign,” says Johanna Wallburg, Key Account Manager at Spreadshop.

Interviews with the participating artists are presented on the radioeins gallery website as well as on the air on Mondays to Fridays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (CEST). Franziska Maderthaner, Julia Maier, Matthias Dornfeld, Moritz Schleime, and Roman Lipski are currently participating in the campaign. Works by Kennet Lekko and Kim Dreyer will also be added to the virtual gallery soon.

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Romy-Marie Ulrich

Romy-Marie Ulrich

Corporate Communications Specialist

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Spread Group signs Diversity Charter

Published 17. May 2021 in Company Press Releases Responsibility
Spread+Group+signs+Diversity+Charter

By joining the non-profit association “Charta der Vielfalt e. V.”, Spread Group commits itself to a corporate culture of tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect.

Spread Group joined the non-profit association Charta der Vielfalt e.V. today. Now the values exercised at the group’s locations will be more visible and tangible from the outside. As a member of the nationwide initiative, Spread Group is committed to consistently driving forward diversity management and inclusion. In doing so, it can build on existing processes and internal projects that have already been initiated.

“We are proud to be a part of this important initiative now. More than 50 percent of our management positions are already held by female executives, and it goes without saying that every employee can work part-time for us – even in management. We will now continue to develop this open environment while respecting the charter’s standards. For example, we are planning new workshops to raise awareness for diversity topics and involve the ideas of our staff in the process,” says Theresa Kretzschmar, Global HR Director of Spread Group.

The Charta der Vielfalt e.V. association was founded in 2010 and began its work in March 2011 under the patronage of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. As a signatory, the Spread Group joins the circle of more than 3,800 companies and institutions. These are committed to advancing the recognition, appreciation, and inclusion of diversity by way of voluntary commitment.

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