In my Square One I gave a glimpse into how the development approach in NetWeaver R&D — and now also at SAP R&D at large — has been changed over the past 3 years towards “by the books” Lean and Agile Software Development methodologies.
One has to acknowledge the fact that this transformation is rather a journey than a well-defined end state, a vision to strive for on a continuous basis rather than something that you “climb up once” and then sit back and enjoy.
Even 3 years into the journey, we’re still facing a number of concerns and areas we need to improve. The good thing today is that we’ve reached a level of buy-in into the concepts and ideas within the organization at large that addressing and solving those issues is rather a question of when to tackle them rather than whether to tackle them at all. Also, we’ve meanwhile gained enough experience with Lean and Agile that we’re not completely flying blind any more and can rather quickly come up with incremental improvements.
“Lean” and “Agile” is to a large extent about mindset, it’s a way of thinking.
While it seems pretty obvious today that in retrospective the transformation of our R&D organization towards Lean/Agile has been the right thing to push for, things had not been that obvious and easy when we started thinking about it. That we would be successful in the long run, was by no means a given. There had been many skeptics and critics in 2009: Why should the grass be greener on the other side of the street? Why not just keep things as they are? Why another hype initiative that is pushed through the organization to keep some people busy and give management something to worry about?
What I wanted to share with you in this post is how we got things started, explaining how we pulled off the initial changes. So here’s my personal top recommendations to those of you who might consider making a similar change towards Lean and Agile in your own organization:
1. Be explicit and bold about your goals
2. Be realistic and transparent about what you’re doing
3. Get top management actively involved
4. Seek advice and support from external experts
5. Pilot concepts first
6. Create tangible impact for a majority of the organization quickly