Other parts of this series:
- Agility is the strategic imperative for financial services firms
- Financial services needs to speed up efforts in the agility race
- To win in agility, financial services firms need to strengthen stability
- How to rewire financial services for true agility
- How to rewire leadership, governance and funding for true agility
- How to rewire culture, workforce and organisation for true agility
- How to rewire channels, operations and technology for true agility
- Agile in financial services: No silver bullet, no panacea
- Navigating the agility journey in financial services
- Reflections on an agile future in financial services
As we’ve explored in this blog series enterprise agility is a strategic imperative and to achieve true agility banks and insurers need to become both fast and stable. While these firms will all embark on their own unique journey of rewiring for speed and stability, our recent analysis of multiple studies revealed practical steps banks and insurers can take to build experience, maturity and discipline over time.
As for all transformational changes, you have to start with leadership commitment at all levels, establishing a clear vision and direction, getting the organisation dynamics right and providing a supportive environment to develop new behaviours. In our experience, too many organisations jump in on one element–such a new organisation structure or a new agile method–focusing on doing agile, not being agile first. Some organisations have sought to implement agile in a big bang way, completely missing the benefits of an iterative agile approach of learning, building momentum and developing maturity and disciplines to scale up over time.
While there’s no one approach, we’ve outlined the agility journey in the following order that we hope would be helpful for you: 1. Getting Started, 2. Introducing agile, 3. Scaling agile, 4. Embracing enterprise agility.
Getting started with enterprise agility involves setting the right direction and ambition with your leaders at all levels and building their understanding. First, evaluate your starting point; even if that involves the small-scale projects you have already started. Next, using analytical tools, assess your FS firm’s enterprise agility and the readiness of your organisational dynamics, such as levels of trust. Setting a vision is key to establishing your overall strategy. Put the right leadership in place and identify first priorities.
Introducing agile is about momentum. Your firm should pilot agile in priority areas and keep these pilots scaled to a level suitable to your readiness and priorities. An example starting point might be 5-10 small teams following a scrum approach to deliver different key customer and operational changes. Appoint initial product owners to empower them. Set ambitions and address the obstacles in each area. For these pilots start to decentralize decision-making and begin to fast-track governance. Set up multi-disciplinary teams and protect them from organisational barriers. Leverage existing agile, while you introduce new ways of working and reinforce collaboration. Turn to agile coaches when necessary to develop good team-working practices. Alongside these pilots you can still allow other areas to adopt agile working practices and behaviours.
Scaling agile widens it across the change portfolio, increases the scale of initiatives delivered using agile and strengthens delivery disciplines. Do not apply agile slavishly to all initiatives–continue to think about each change and what it needs. For scaled delivery, select a suitable approach (e.g. SAFe) and apply the delivery disciplines carefully. Consider the required workplace and tooling. Learn from initial experiences and scale incrementally, assessing effectiveness along the way. Take on bigger, more ambitious programs, while speeding up governance, funding and decision-making around them. Start integrating digital delivery capability and DevOps practices and tools.
Embracing enterprise agility is when the FS enterprise can be rewired completely for speed and stability (see the last five blogs for some ideas about what to do!). Iteratively develop and enhance your strategic agility around sensing and responding to opportunities and disruption in the marketplace. Address some of the orthodoxies and constraints holding your organisation back. Continue to learn what works well for your firm.
These four parts of the journey are iterative and non-linear. You may be starting from scratch. Your organisation may have already done some work on agile. Or your organisation may be quite mature. Either way all four areas are a useful way to become a truly agile organisation. But as the old cycling adage goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one pedal.” FS firms need to start pedalling to start their agility journey.
In my next blog, I will offer some closing reflections on the future of enterprise agility in FS.
To learn more, register to download: Enterprise Agility in Financial Services: The New Strategic Imperative