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Transforming a complex organisation with transparency and support

The situation

Our customer, a finance company employing tens of thousands of people, meets the needs of a diverse range of customers with myriad different products, services and objectives. As one of the largest banks in Australia and New Zealand, it has primarily operated with a siloed structure, with each department having its own culture, accountability and processes.

Following the Banking Royal Commission, the company launched their largest transformation of the past 20 years. The objective? To proactively implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission across the whole organisation, shifting its operations at rapid speed.

The challenge

While the company has extensive knowledge and resources in the finance sector, it didn’t have the level of expertise and capacity required to deliver on this outcome. There wasn’t a high level of agile proficiency within the relevant business group, which meant starting at the ground level; capability building, training and coaching. 

Its critical challenge was developing and embedding the necessary capabilities and skills at scale. There were significant changes to action across the whole of their business, incorporating multiple departments, all levels of management and huge variation in buy-in.

The company faced the mammoth task of restructuring senior leader accountabilities, introducing new processes, new operating rhythms and a new behaviour and culture that could support this way of operating.

As transformation lead, the project owner was experienced in building capability with external support. They realised it was possible to bring in the experts with an embedded coaching model but needed a partner that could really sell its value into the business and help grow the change organically.

“The current culture is one where coaching has been a difficult gig, which has made it hard to sell the case for the model,” the project owner explains. “One of the critical factors was the need for our consulting team to be pragmatic and not focus on the technical agile practice at the expense of helping the organisation to focus on the outcome itself.”

The company needed consultants who could flex and focus on different aspects of the transformation, establishing, designing and implementing a system that would start the journey with the right tone.

The process

The project owner looked for a partner who could bring in embedded coaching at scale, working alongside the company’s own talent acquisition program until an internal team could take over. 

“Given the pace at which we were rolling out the change, we desperately needed a partner to help us fast track our ability to design the ways of working,” the project owner says. 

“There was pushback before the model was even launched. So, a lot of work was done upfront to educate our leaders on the ‘why’, putting in place key foundations that would allow us to demonstrate impact.” 

Elabor8 embedded more than 20 of their consultants as Practitioner Coaches within the organisation’s team. This allowed them to provide professional development in-house, training future coaches in situ while the work was happening.

This structure permitted the company to rapidly push ahead with its cultural transformation, knowing experts were on site to guide the change and identify leadership and team hotspots for developmental intervention.

The solution

Within the business, coaches took action doing formation work to lay the foundations — while at the same time designing training initiatives, deploying boot camps and readying launch and operational materials. As the first wave of embedded coaches, their work happened alongside a new drive that recruited some of the brightest minds in the country to their agile workforce.

The project owner and his team engaged senior management at each step of the transformation. They were able to establish baseline metrics, to measure the performance of squads, tribes and business units, pointing to the impact of the agile culture and coaching over the course of the transformation journey.

Having developed a mechanism for data-based feedback loops showing actions and focus, Elabor8 made it simple to communicate progress and demonstrate the project’s success to internal sponsors.

The results

“Through our partnership with Elabor8, we went hard and early with the things we know will set us up for success in the long run,” the project owner says. “It wasn’t just about introducing processes, operating rhythms and the academic side of agile. We also put the enabling tools in place that support that way of working from day one.”

As they describe, organisation-wide transformation isn’t complex, but it is hard. There’s an enormous amount of work required to pivot a culture that has developed over decades.

Now, with Elabor8’s guidance, the company has embedded 32 of its own coaches fresh into the organisation.

They will continue to work with Elabor8 to develop the deep technical expertise and immersive experience they need before they can be self-sustaining.

COVID-19 even played a role. With remote working, Elabor8 were able to work with our customer to coordinate hundreds of employees across all six lines of the business, running kickoff and training virtually – a task that would have otherwise been almost impossible.

Final thoughts

By partnering with Elabor8, the company was able to draw from a decade’s worth of transformation experience, employing tools and proven patterns to fast track their transformation at pace, and gaining the ability to create consistency and efficiencies into their approach. Now, the organisation has a more agile approach, working for outcomes rather than department structures.

“I continue to look to Elabor8 as a strategic partner,” the project owner says. “In shaping our efforts, I actively seek their input into our approach. There’s no doubt in my mind that the work we’ve done has been step-level change and will have lasting impacts. We’ve set the ripple effects for a fundamentally different organisation.”