In my previous post I looked at how agile change is being applied by financial services (FS) organisations beyond IT delivery in order to maximise speed to benefit and improve change outcomes.

To be successful, FS firms looking to implement agile for end-to-end business change need to consider and enhance five key areas across their change business: Leadership, talent, collaboration, risk and culture.                                                        

Building the right leadership team is one of the key success factors for fostering agility, according to a recent Accenture survey. Leaders in financial services looking to deliver end-to-end business change need to focus on senior sponsorship and advocacy; distributed decision-making; and culture of experimentation. Accepting new ways of working, while giving up some decision rights will be essential to managing change. Agile teams will also need a certain level of tolerance for their trials and errors. It’s up to the change leaders to use failures as learning opportunities, but also quickly end projects not yielding the expected results. This can be challenging in FS organisations where other pressures on leaders encourage risk adversity and control.

Create new talent by developing existing talent and injecting new talent. Most FS organisations lack the experience in agile delivery, which means taking a hard look at the workforce to consider the capability gaps and building cross-functional teams. This will involve cultivating an innovative workforce with informal training and empowering colleagues to learn from each other. The agile journey will inevitably create rivalries among teams, especially between agile and more traditional programmes, so FS leaders need to be prepared to manage competition and help build an overall understanding of change capabilities and overall mindset.

Collaboration is key. Multi-disciplinary and cross-functional teams are essential for agile business change.  Financial services organisations and their change leaders need to advocate for working together both internally and externally. Set up cross-functional teams; share SMEs; bring colleagues together from different locations; and encourage the use of digital sharing tools. For example, one global retail bank provides millennial mentors to senior leadership teams to assist them with using social collaboration tools more effectively to collaboration down and across their organisation siloes.

Overcome risk aversion by getting risk and compliance stakeholders involved early. This is one of the biggest challenges in FS to becoming agile. FS change leaders should define roles clearly and have a disciplined focus, while balancing cost, compliance and customer. Agile change is not, in itself, an inherently high-risk approach, recognizing that some disciplines such as release planning need to be dialled up not down.

Create an open and innovative culture. Perhaps the most crucial requirement to achieving true, comprehensive agile change is shifting the mindset and behaviour of organisations. FS executives can accomplish this by clearly communicating behaviour goals; refocusing performance on the collective; abandoning perfectionism; and being open to new methods and ideas especially from outside the organisation.

This broad approach towards being agile is more effective than solely implementing a new methodology or pursuing agile in isolated pockets of the organisation or just in IT. The most agile and successful financial services firms will be the ones that look at the bigger picture and build a more holistic organisational agility. 

To learn more, register to download the full report: Time to Join the Revolution: Agile Change in Financial Services


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