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Scaling an Agile Mindset at a Leading Financial Services Provider

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A leading Netherlands-based financial services organization aligned its top 5,500 leaders to a new agile strategy in three days by leveraging moments-based leadership simulations and Pulse technology to cascade the strategy to all leaders.

 

A Call to Change

A leading Netherlands-based financial services organization recognized a rift within the firm. Due to differences between their Netherlands and Belgian operations, the bank had effectively begun running two different multibillion dollar businesses with separate leaders, strategies, and infrastructure. This rift challenged the bank’s alignment and made it difficult for them to hone their strategy execution.

Faced with the rapid pace of change and today’s increasingly customer-centric and technology-enabled environment, the bank decided to adopt an agile mentality, transforming themselves from a bank into a technology company serving clients’ financial needs. This shift was a significant challenge for the firm to undertake given the siloed nature of their business, and required significant investment in leadership development.

Pulse is a web-enabled technology application platform that allows large groups of users to experience highly interactive and customized content at the same time.

Digitally-Enabled Strategy Execution

To bring this transformation to life, the firm engaged with BTS to align their two groups of leaders under the new strategy, cultivating their new agile mindset. BTS conducted a series of intensive interviews to truly understand the organization’s needs and the critical behavioral changes necessary for their new strategy to take hold.

Leveraging Pulse Digital technology, BTS created a customized business simulation that would allow the bank’s top 5,500 leaders to rapidly and effectively learn and experience the new strategy.

Alignment at Scale

Over the course of three days, the bank’s top 150, the following 850, and then the 4,500 leaders below them would go through the customized simulation. The group of 4,500 was divided into three cohorts of 1,500, with one group going through the simulation each day. On day one, the top 150, 850, and first group of 1,500 touched the new strategy, followed by the second and third groups of 1,500 in the two days following.

Pulse cascade technology enabled all of the leaders to go through the simulation at the same time in a customized environment, despite the large scale. This multi-tiered implementation strategy allowed nearly every leader at the firm to make the new strategy personal, learning and experiencing how adopting an agile mindset would shape their business.

Business Simulations Make Strategy a Reality

A team-based business simulation brought the strategy to life, with six to eight people in each group. Each team engaged through the use of one “leader” and two “follower” iPads, aggregating decisions and prompting reflections in real-time. Immediate, crowd-sourced data helped participants gain value from the large scale of the cohort.

The simulation was “moments-based,” meaning it allowed leaders to experience the critical moments in which the right leadership decisions produce better results. The moments were modeled after real scenarios, helping leaders understand what essential behavior changes looked like on-the-job and why they were important for strategy execution.

The simulation experience was introduced in tandem with strategy maps, which helped leaders to understand what agile looks like, and how they needed to shift their mindsets and behaviors to embrace the new strategy. Leaders also experienced a video hunt, where teams recorded videos to practice inspiring others in the organization around the company’s message. Peers then rated the videos on their clarity and connection with the audience.

Ensuring Long Term Results

Six months after the experience, the top 150 had the opportunity to reflect on their learnings post program. Teams were separated into breakout rooms with BTS Coach Facilitators and asked themselves “how have things changed?” This gave them the opportunity to reflect on their learnings and subsequent behavior changes on the job, while exploring the challenges of this new style of leading.

Reflecting on Success

Ultimately the program has been a huge success, garnering positive feedback from participants. The most exciting accomplishment of this leadership journey was the opportunity for 5,500 of the bank’s leaders to gain ownership of the strategy in such a short period of time.

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