What is your burning agile question? How agile is your company?
Fifty ‘eager to learn’ organizations were inspired about agile working during the interactive session: ‘From vision to transition; Agile by ABN AMRO’ in the Flokk Design Center in Rotterdam. On 6 March, six speakers of the Dutch bank shared their knowledge and experience on the impact of agile working, the challenges and lessons learned. Some insights.
The pressure on organizations to deliver services and solutions quickly and efficiently has been growing steadily. Today’s successful firms have one thing in common - an agile organization. A study by the Boston Consulting Group shows that adopting agile ways of working make companies up to 5 times more likely to be successful compared to competitors who do not.
With this way of working, the requirements that are set for the working environment also change. ABN AMRO bank is one of the early adopters of this new way of working. In their transformation, they realized that working agile not only has a major organizational, operational and cultural impact on the core business of the bank. It also impacts areas such as facility management, interior design and cooperation with suppliers.
Ton Hagens, Agile Transformation Leader kicked off the session: “ABN AMRO has been experimenting with agile working since 2011. This was originally driven by the IT department. In 2015, a tipping point led to an overall agile transformation, as we wanted to develop relevant products for our clients faster, in a more flexible way and by continuously using their feedback. This new way of working and mindset required major changes in the organizational structure, in the company culture and in the willingness to learn. Working agile benefits employees: it gives them more autonomy, end-to-end responsibility and creates an environment in which innovation and co-creation is nurtured by short cycled thinking. Today, hundreds of multidisciplinary teams consisting of 6000 employees (this is over a quarter of all staff across the bank) are working according to the agile principles.” Curious to find out what they think? Four of them share their experience in this video.
Ton Hagens: “You learn the most by making mistakes. Accept rework!”
Tom Verhoeve, moderator of the event and Change manager at ABN AMRO: "The organization changes as people learn. The challenge is not only to learn continuously, but above all to do this together.”
“Based on the experience of early adopters of agile working such as Spotify we know that the real change comes from within. Internal successful references are the foundation for the future.” Not all departments within the Dutch bank are working agile, but everyone is motivated to think agile. Especially the ‘change driven’ teams work agile. A good example of how these teams create value for customers is the development and introduction of the Tikkie app, which allows consumers to send payment requests via WhatsApp.
Mark Sjerp, Account Manager at Facility Management and Ingrid Spiljard, Program Manager Yello are responsible for ABN AMRO’s work premises. Ingrid: “From concept to completion, we translate the wishes of the employees into inspiring workplaces. Yello, our work concept, focuses on four basic pillars: diversity, vitality, sustainability and efficiency. We conduct surveys to identify people’s intrinsic motivations and wishes. We start by asking the question: what do you need, instead of: what do you want? By involving employees in the design of their workplace, satisfaction about the working environment has increased: from a 6+ to an 8+ in the Yello office concept. In realizing ABN AMRO’s ‘Yello’ concept for agile office spaces, Flokk supplied among others HÅG and RBM chairs to the bank, as one of their strategic partners.
For the success of Yello, the collaboration between IT, HR and facility management was crucial. The challenge is to create suitable premises for the teams transitioning to agile working and scrum. Mark: “The focus is more on sustainable solutions and flexible use of the workspace by using movable elements and furniture”. In this respect, the selection of the right office chair was very relevant looking at the ease of adjustability and providing both a suitable and healthy seating solution for everyone. In addition the concept still focusses on ergonomics and on motivating employees to move and relax regularly in order to stay vital and focused.
With Yello, the bank has designed a new working concept that facilitates agile working and is activity-based. Part of the Yello concept are the ‘Yello agile scrum floors’. These are based on the need of employees to be in the office more often and to work together more intensively. That is why they value and need a personal and ‘fixed’ workspace as a team. Obviously, this impacted the occupancy rate which increased from 0.6 to 0.8.
Ingrid Spiljard: “Normally, a transition like Yello takes at least 1.5 years. We succeeded in transferring 4200 FTE to the new work concept in 10 months!”
Selvi Ayranci, Category Head IT Services and Joost Boerstoel, Procurement Sourcing and Vendor Manager: "Working agile also has an impact on how we wish to work together with our suppliers. Our objective is to accomplish long-term relationships. Therefore, we start with a request for partnership, instead of a request for proposal. We do not want rigid service level agreements, but agreements where there is room for adjustment and improvement. Effectively this comes down to active participation of the IT suppliers in project development teams. The IT partners of ABN AMRO are mostly located in India and were able to seamlessly match their processes with those of the bank. The partners were also asked what they need from ABN AMRO to work together successfully. Five elements emerged: Basics for distributed agile, People and culture, Quality assessment & dialogue, Organisation & contract and Run alignment. Elements that get the right focus in our cooperation now.
The Flokk Design Center in Rotterdam was the scene of an instructive, interactive and inspiring afternoon. David Coenen, Country Manager Benelux of Flokk: “The vision of Flokk is 'to inspire great work'. Our partner ABN AMRO has conveyed that vision today in an engaging way to us all. By giving their employees and partners the freedom to innovate, participate, learn, make mistakes and to be themselves (bye bye corporate dress code and hello beards, knots and hoodies) Today the Flokk design center colored Yello!“
Photos: Shirley van der Schans