Earlier this year, I wrote about how financial services (FS) firms that are surviving the disruption in the short term and will thrive in the long term are tailoring their approach by project, and adopting agile on a forward-looking basis.

Our latest global study, FS Change Survey 2017, confirms my prediction. Our survey shows that a small group of FS firms (approximately 10 percent of our sample) are significantly better at change than their peers. In my last blog post, I examined how they were managing change through some key steps. Now, it’s time for us to consider their most striking strength: agile change.

According to our survey, 94 percent of change leaders score their agility and flexibility highly and feel they can change quickly (compared to 60 percent of their peers). Agility can be mistaken for sheer speed of change. However, with speed often comes instability. True agility balances speed and stability, both accelerating the momentum of change and bringing greater delivery discipline. These leaders in FS strive for speed, but simultaneously maintain stability.

The change leaders have realised change is continuous and intense. To thrive in this environment, they are developing true agility and enterprise-wide change capability. More of their change is run using agile methodologies, both in continuous small change and scaled programmatic change. They do not just go faster, they do so with elevated change disciplines and a clear focus on change outcomes. They also embed agility into how their business runs – for instance, the level and speed of decision making in their risk controls and governance. As a result they accelerate speed to value. They also demand greater speed to benefits – 84 percent expect benefits to be delivered within 18 months.

While these change leaders demonstrate a bias toward shorter delivery cycles with more frequent iterations, they also show a willingness to continue iterating after the change has gone live. Innovation and experimentation, learning from mistakes and changing course quickly are key features. Specifically of note is that change leaders are markedly better at making agile work – again they get better change outcomes (83 percent vs. 57 percent), improved stakeholder engagement (79 percent vs. 58 percent) and greater change efficiency (87 percent vs. 50 percent). 

The change leaders are clearly on their way to thrive in the new digital economy. Will you follow their lead before you get left behind?

To find out more about the Financial Services Change Survey or to join our FS Change Directors Forum, please contact me. You can also connect with me on Twitter.

You can read more survey results here.

To learn more about agile change in FS, register to download our report: Time to Join the Revolution: Agile Change in Financial Services

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