Siemens specializes in going to the next level of ingenuity when it comes to meeting complicated customer challenges. The ambition to combine both real and digital worlds shifts things into a more complex arena of the VUCA World (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). Agile and lean-start-up are the methodologies of choice to be effective in this space. Doing an agile transformation in an already successful organization can be both a blessing and a curse.
Here is what my personal learnings are from the 3 ½ years of my being a Business Owner in a Scaled Agile Framework SAFe® with Siemens.
1 – The Expert Dilemma
Staff expertise is one of the success factors of Siemens. Navigating the VUCA World also requires expertise in areas like agile methodology, customer processes, and technology. At the same time the VUCA World requires the exact opposite of expertise: a humble beginner´s mindset questioning the status quo and carrying out small experiments to learn from. Actively supporting the change process towards this contrast of mindset is a success factor.
2 – Continuous delivery and learning
Fail fast – fail safe is key for success in the VUCA World. To do this, months must be turned into days and weeks when it comes to customer deployment- and feedback-cycles. We identified four success factors for teams to achieve this:
1) high level of trust between developer, scrum master and product manager,
2) empowerment to make decisions e.g. to release and deploy,
3) a can-do mentality focused on outcome that does not take “no” for an answer,
4) direct access to end-customer feedback.
3 – Align on a common goal
A characteristic of large corporations is a strong division of labor. To avoid conflicts of interest it is important to align disciplines. We achieve progress by applying an Objective Key Results methodology where the teams define their key results which contribute to achieving three common measurable business objectives. The line managers across disciplines translate these key results into targets for individual performance reviews.
4 – It is about accountability
If everyone does their job but still, the various parts do not add up to an end-to-end customer experience, no value is created. Especially in the VUCA World, the key here is to hold people accountable for the outcome and not output. A high division-of-work environment easily defaults to finger-pointing. Regular inspect and adapt sessions led by the scrum masters without management participation provide a safe space to allows teams to constructively improve their outcome.
It is a journey
Let me know what you think about these four aspects of the agile transition in the comments section below.