Swisscom Directories AG faced the challenge of transforming already agile- with classically organized company parts to a large whole new agile organization. The transformation team went different path, namely a participative agile transformation with several large group events. The journey reached its first peak as the employees formed their own teams through self-selection. In this serie of blog posts we'd like to share the challenges we faced, our experiences and the results of our joint work in the agile transformation team at Swisscom Directories AG.

In this blog post we take a look back to the 3nd Big Room, where the 100 employees aligned the new sagas with the new strategy self-organized.

<< Back to the previous Article of the story: Self-selection @ Scale - Forming the teams (Episode 3)

Initial position

On the very next day after the 2nd Big Room, we ran the 3rd Big Room with all employees including all stakeholders. The new strategic objectives should be sliced down jointly incl. identification of dependencies, risks and the objectives for the first quarter 2017 (bottom-up / top-down) determined. The goal was the alignment of management with all sagas. The start of the delivery should take place on the following day. It was still open, whether we were overwhelming the employees, or if they could keep up with the pace?

Preparation

For the 3rd Big Room it was not much to prepare any more. The strategic themes, the room with all facilities needed and the sagas were already available. Only open things were to invite and brief the stakeholders and to prepare the moderation.

There is no one better and no other we can call than the people here, so please decide!
— x-functional Transformation Team, localsearch

3. Big Room - Participative, strategic alignment of the sagas

The Sagas started working on a strategic theme by theme, broke those down into epics, features and for the first sprint already in user stories. We identified dependencies and risks, and answered emerging questions directly with other sagas or stakeholders.

Source Localsearch, 2017

Other, already established Sagas, started directly with the implementation :-).

Search.ch Saga in Action, Source Localsearch, 2017

The most important intermediate results were briefly presented in the plenum after the end of a timebox and so shared with everyone. Minor risks, or dependencies, were addressed directly between the sagas and those tried to resolve them self-organized. In order to mediate the procedure at the same time, we carried out the first iteration very tightly and assisted by an equally close moderation. The other iterations were then completely self-organized and more generously taked.

Céline Massé, Product Owner in Action, Source Localsearch, 2017

Over time, various, simple boards (Business Objectives, Risks, Rhythm, etc) were developed as well as a top-down / bottom-up alignment and commitment. It was now possible to learn from the first hand why, for example, some strategic themes could not yet be addressed, or did not have space in this quarter.

Rhythm Board, source Localsearch, 2017

Employees, who were not currently busy, were instructed to follow their current work. However, they stayed always available on the spot to answer upcoming questions.

In the evening, a short demo of the results, incl. Q & A, was concluded with the top management.

Learnings

  • Despite the very different knowledge and status of the sagas, each saga succeeded to present an agile roadmap at the end of the day.
  • Important risks and dependencies were addressed directly with the other sagas and, where possible, directly resolved. Due to technical dependencies, further castling was made in the sagas and the setup was further optimized self-organized.
  • The immediate availability of all employees and stakeholders was very effective. Open questions were answered directly, risks were addressed and joint business goals were agreed upon.
  • The fact that the sagas in the previous big rooms were empowered helped to make decisions now really made.
  • The management, the portfolio management and the business owner also had to accept that the time had not yet come for some strategic themes. Since they learned this from first hand, they could accept this better and did not overbook the sagas.
  • It has proven to make no difference whether the employees of a Sagas are "external" or "internal". We needed their expertise and that was the only thing that was important.

In the next episode

The participative real-time transformation was a complete success. It is now necessary to take the learnings and to improve on the localsearch model, the cooperation / process organization, the line organization, as well as the next big room itself. The transformation, or the journey has just begun!

>> Forward to the next article of the story: Self-selection @ Scale - Retrospective (5th part)

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