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OAF V – Hosted by Barclays Bank

This document records the abridged meeting notes from the fifth meeting of the Operational

Agility Forum hosted by Barclays. The meeting was conducted at the Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf, London and then adjourned to a reception kindly hosted by Barclays at their offices at 1 Churchill Place. The meeting was chaired by Richard Jones, Acting Chairman of the Operational Agility Forum. The meeting was attended by 30 professionals who have roles in business operations, Customer Services, Back Office Operations Senior Management, Business Change and IT.

Organisations Represented – Barclays, Capita, Co-operative Banking Group, Experian ,KCOM, Fidelity International Limited, Leeds Building Society ,Mizuho Corporate Bank, npower, O2, Optimise Agility, Royal Bank of Canada Dexia, Shop Direct

Meeting Summary

The meeting began by examining how decisions and actions within organisations are made to support different scales of challenges and opportunities. Recognizing this and then “smoothing” an organisations ability to “observe – orient – decide – act” is a significant step towards achieving faster, more agile and more responsive performance. It was suggested that one design would be to organise permanent “halo” teams that separate strategic and operational activity in order to precisely facilitate constant change.

An example of this would be a large strategic IT program supported by mid-size and smaller initiates that sit closer to and ultimately within the business teams. The effect is to “buffer” and facilitate the big changes implied by the main program, so as to smooth, synchronise and accelerate change across the entire organisation. It was suggested that designing an organisation to take into account this activity landscape was a crucial condition for achieving agility, speed, and ultimately more coherent outcomes. These notions were further discussed within a live example of how a new technology supported by an operational agility team with its own ability to self-service (or self-configure) back office automations without the use of IT but fully compliant with IT standards.

Here they use “pontoon bridge” and the “long tail of change” as an analogy for separating the live environment from core IT programs, and as a way for each group understanding and therefore blending their roles. The new approach allows a more even distribution of decision making and participation in business solutions – with consequent improvement in performance across the entire business. From an operational perspective it also meant that an attractive new option to offshoring, outsourcing or core IT had emerged and that off-shore processes could efficiently and effectively been bought back on-shore and automated locally. This meant that smaller teams would manage only the real process exceptions and the vast majority of processes could economically be automated, even if they only appeared seasonally or were sporadic in nature.

The group finally discussed how ideas for dealing with customers and building brands were just as relevant to the internal designs of an organisation. That “powerful experiences” with clarity influence internal behaviour in much the same way great products and services are promoted by consumers. Moreover, that designing the means for ideas, and therefore change, to smoothly run across an organisation serves to synchronise actions, promotes coherence and ultimately delivers organisational performance.

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