In a new world of volatility and constant change, it is not the biggest or the strongest who will thrive, but those who are the most agile and adaptive to change. Banks and insurers realize this, and are rebuilding their businesses for agility, as I have noted in the previous posts in this series.

It all begins with the people. Embedding change activity as a small part of all managers’ and employees’ roles, and training them to handle change, can make change the norm rather than an exception.

Nonetheless, organizations also need strong change teams to serve as the glue that binds together different delivery partners to make change successful. These partners can include compliance, HR, communications, facilities, procurement, finance and, most critically, IT.

Most change is technology-enabled and digital innovation is changing the FS industry. IT and business change teams are separate but symbiotic capabilities. Breaking down the traditional barriers between the two capabilities can vastly improve cross-functional collaboration as well as improve alignment right across the organization.

Agile methods for both technology and business change programs can facilitate this, bringing together teams who deliver regular releases to the business and customers. Such methodologies involve tight multi-disciplinary teams working together on sprints. Each sprint delivers a change or part of a change which is self-contained and valuable to the business and the customer. Sprint teams involve business stakeholders, subject matter experts, change and IT. The process needs much greater participation from business stakeholders and the end- user, both in the sprint team and in using techniques such as iterative prototyping and model office testing.

Agile delivery can accelerate delivery and bring greater innovation. It can be used in its purest form on smaller changes, for example, in some digital initiatives, and adapted for larger programs. The Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe, provides one recipe for adopting Agile in larger and higher risk programs

Agile does not require the abandoning of program disciplines or quality. In fact, it demands intense focus on implementation planning and release management. The horizon for each sprint or release is typically shorter and much more structured, helping to reduce risk. Quality, and business sponsorship are usually improved because the business users are so involved in shaping the end-product throughout its development.

To learn more, download Professionalizing change in financial services.

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