Some years ago, I had the privilege of being involved in a massive agile adoption at Capital One. That adoption succeeded, I believe, because of the powerful combination of top-down executive support and bottom-up grass-roots momentum.

I’ve found that, though these large-scale adoptions do not represent the vast majority of adoptions, we still love hearing about them. What is it about these large adoptions that captivate us? I think it is their large, visible, monumental nature that strikes us with awe and respect. [Incidentally, I think this is why we hear (see?) much more about Egypt than the larger and equally accomplished Indus Valley civilization. For history buffs, the Indus Valley civilization is believed to have been democratic, and not authoritarian.]
Anyway, over the past few years, I’ve been looking forward to hearing more about other, newer monumental adoptions. There are large-scale adoptions underway with several 1000s of people at Siemens and Huawei. Reportedly, 70% of all projects at Huawei use agile methods.
Now, ERP giant SAP reports “all well” with its own monumental agile adoption. Working toward building a “culture of innovation,” co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe reports that delivery cycles have been cut from 15 months down to 6-9 months. Some of SAP’s agile-in-a-large-company specifics, across 14,000+ developers:
  1. Forming smaller teams that are empowered to make decisions on their own
  2. Customers are in the room from the beginning, not at the very end
  3. Switching to Scrum for iterative development, with 4-week Sprints
Hopefully, these changes will help SAP turn its bureaucratic culture around and achieve desired business results.
Meanwhile, Capital One has moved on and is doing well. If you’re interested in the larger business focus of how Capital One “loves to change,” check out this paper, Building a Change Capability at Capital One Financial:
Do you know of any monumental adoptions? Do tell…we all love them, don’t we?

Categories: ,