A Banking Giant Becomes More Agile

As with many industries, the banking and financial world has undergone tremendous changes over the past several years to keep pace with competitive industry. Today, we can take a picture of a check with our mobile phone, and it is deposited into our account almost immediately. There is no more standing in line at a branch office… if there are even branch offices remaining.

Three years ago, Dutch banking giant ING recognized that it had to “emulate the speed, dynamism and customer centricity of digital players such as Google, Netflix and Spotify” (McKinsey Quarterly, January 2017). Or, as ING’s Chief Information Officers Peter Jacobs and Bart Schlatmann outlined, the bank needed to undergo an “agile transformation.”

To begin this transformation, the company introduced an “agile way of working.” Specifically, this meant that all employees needed to provide a seamless and consistently high-quality service, so that each customer could start their business/interaction through one channel and continue it through another – going into a branch office for investment advice and then going online to make an actual investment, for example.

This kind of total organizational shift required agility – the flexibility and ability to rapidly adapt and steer in new directions. Only then would ING be able to provide the type of “end-to-end experience” customers now demand.

The McKinsey Quarterly article described the various changes in how employees were organized into teams and departments were reorganized to eliminate the old “silos” throughout the bank. Through this process, it became obvious that the success of ING’s mission depended upon their leaders’ and employees’ individual level of agility/flexibility.

As Jacobs noted, a “new people model” was required in order to accomplish their mission. Therefore, they established an “agile performance-management model” that emphasized how each employee and team was able to deal with knowledge.”

Although neither ING or McKinsey may have recognized it, they understood that the ability for each person to change and adapt from what is learned was the foundation of all aspects of their transformation. This is also at the heart of many aspects of the new Burke Learning Agility Inventory™ (Burke LAI™).

The nine dimensions that compose the Burke LAI are: Flexibility; Experimenting; Performance Risk Taking; Interpersonal Risk Taking; and Reflecting.

Flexibility includes sifting through information, considering various options for action, and then choosing the best one to address the situation at hand. Then, Flexibility allows for the three dimensions of Experimenting, Performance Risk Taking and Interpersonal Risk Taking to evolve.

Experimenting is “trying out new behaviors (i.e., approaches and ideas) to determine what is effective,” and Performance Risk Taking includes “seeking new activities (i.e., tasks, assignments, roles, etc.) that provide opportunities to be challenged.” Interpersonal Risk Taking incorporates, “discussing differences with others in ways that lead to learning and change.” These three Burke Learning Agility dimensions serve as a foundation for trying out new approaches and learning from the experiences, including the failures.

Finally, Reflecting involves a person’s ability to “step back from an event and review what occurred to determine positive occurrences and things that need to be altered in future trials.” This is the thinking part.

As the exclusive partner of the Burke LAI, EASI•Consult® has been utilizing this tool for the past two years. During that time, we have seen the success the Burke LAI has had in helping to identify and develop leaders at various levels, as well as serving as the essential capability to drive crucial organization-wide transformation.

It is imperative to remember that any large-scale change and continuous improvement effort requires that each organization member possess the “learning agility” to actually demonstrate the required new behaviors.

Joseph Gier, Ph.D. is Vice President – Consulting Services at EASI•Consult® and is a licensed Psychologist. EASI•Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI•Consult has incorporated the Burke LAI™ into various solutions including leadership and individual assessment, leadership development, executive coaching, professional-level individual contributor assessment, and 360-degree feedback. EASI•Consult also offers online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI•Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.

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