SOK and Nitor started their agile journey together in 2020 when SOK needed to renew their online stores quickly. The existing organisational structure did not support agile development, and work progressed slowly. In addition, SOK needed a unified way of working. Simultaneously, the company's competitiveness was suffering as there was no way to hear what the customers had to say. It was high time to renew the whole operating model of online operations. 

Jointly created agile principles form the framework for the transformation

Implementing a new operating model into an organisation requires time. It is essential to ensure that the new way of thinking is long-lasting and creates a capability to build sustainable businesses for the future. 

The cooperation had clear objectives: continuous growth and efficient processes for online groceries, as well as bringing the customer to the center of all operations. 

However, the timing of this large-scale transformation was challenging. The dire need for online grocery shopping had emerged in the middle of a global pandemic. People were working remotely, and most of the experts had never even met each other. Adopting completely novel working methods in such a setting seemed daunting. 

During the first six months, SOK and Nitor created a set of agile principles that fit SOK's needs. These principles acted as a framework ensuring that daily work served the online stores' objectives. Prioritisation of work started to be guided by customer data, and decision-making would be decentralised so that the teams with the relevant skills and real-time information also have the power to make decisions. Investments in competence development and systematic retrospectives helped  good teams amplify their learning effort: the one who learns fastest often wins the race. 

In addition, these jointly shared principles played an essential part in replacing hierarchical leadership with servant leadership through change support and cooperation. 

Photos: SOK and Antti Haataja, Laura Vesa, and Sami Heiskanen.