Agile Change In Large Cooperations: What are the findings?

Learnings from the transformation project of DB Systel, IT subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn

Post for Agile Coaches posted on July 13, 2023
How do I agilise hierarchical companies in complex environments? 🤔 What makes this particular journey? Some time ago, Ingo Sauer, Transformation Consultant at DB Systel GmbH, reported on the change at DB Systel GmbH during AGILE.RUHR 2022.

This resulted in what I think is a very nice travel guide into the agile world of Deutsche Bahn.

If you look at the New Work paradigm of Systel today after 8 years of transformation, you will learn that agility and self-organisation are the guiding principles of the organisation.

For agile coaches like me, however, one question is particularly exciting. What are the learnings of the change? But in keeping with the spirit of an open corporate culture, DB Systel published a lessons learned.

What are the exciting insights from 8 years of agilisation? And what can we learn from this?

✅ The conditions must be right!
  • Agilisation needs a clear why
  • The specific path is created while walking
  • Change needs the commitment of top management
  • And they have to have trust in the added value of the process
✅ In principle, less is more!
  • Agile methods are not an end in themselves but must generate added value.
  • 60% achievement is good enough for the next step, following Pareto 60/40 is better than 90/10
  • Involve stakeholders in both processes and decisions
  • Create psychological security and give individual safety
✅ Leadership learns with you!
  • Enable leaders to understand agility
  • As much bottom-up as possible, as much top-down as necessary
  • Team leadership creates personal responsibility
✅ Values carry the change!
  • Conveying values in understandable terms and making them enforceable
  • Intensive training and empowerment of all colleagues
  • Reduce individual incentives and promote group goals.
✅ Continuously develop the organisation!
  • Encourage participation
  • Appreciation for the past creates motivation for the new
  • Keep group sizes small enough for discussions and decisions
  • Lean administration to promote self-organisation of the team
  • Regularly check what really promotes team success
  • Establish role models in the organisation
  • Transparent information with a focus on the essentials
If you want to learn more about the results of the transformation at DB Systel, here is the evaluation: A few unanswered questions remain, however. What are the obstacles of agile transformations? How do you deal with hierarchical structures in your organisation? And what role does retrospective play in the new organisation?