Sweden is “lagging ahead” when it comes to the digital transformation of public organisations. This was the opening message from Expertgruppen för digitala investeringar at a seminar on Agile Transformation. According to recent statistics Sweden is not a leader in the field, something the Swedish Government wishes to change. While we wait for a new authority for Digitalization a special committee has been formed to support public organisations in the transformation. Much of this is done behind the scenes, but there are also open dissemination of best practices. Today’s event was one such occasion.
Anna Eriksson from Lantmäteriet, The Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority (I didn’t know that) talked about how the authority were transforming their IT-organisation to embrace agile practices. This was very much done via leading by example. The change project itself was run in the spirit of agile, early adopters were allowed to experiment and yearly hackatons encouraged mixed teams with both IT-developers and business people.
Martin Johansson, CIO at SEB and member of the committe, shared SEB:s long and ongoing digital transformation. Martin’s take home message can be summarized as agile takes time. Working in a large organization with legacy systems as well an established organizational culture agile does not happen overnight. One factor contributing to this was the fact that SEB.s project portfolio contained so many running waterfall projects. These had to be finished before the agile transformation could start to deliver. The dinosaurs had to go, as he said. There were many interesting points in Martins account but one important one was the need to unite the business side and the IT side of the organization. While SEB certainly transformed their IT structure, the importance of this collaboration was emphasized a number of times in his presentation. Judging from our own research experience that seems to be true for a number of other organisations as well.
Why this urgency for going agile? Well, as Anders Nyström–who moderated the seminar–said, the strategic projects are in general to slow for politics. With an average length of 30+ months it is difficult to see the effects of political initiatives. Perhaps even more importantly, both Anna Eriksson and Martin Johansson represent large, well established organisations, nevertheless the disruptions on the market calls for agile responses. Otherwise they might turn out to be the dinosaurs.
The only thing I missed was the opportunity to ask a second question. I would have been really interested to learn more about their view on the user.