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ANZ pitches 'NWOW' agile approach to employees as roll-out begins

ANZ pitches 'NWOW' agile approach to employees as roll-out begins

The effort to win hearts and minds for bank's 'New Ways of Working' is underway

For three days last week, the lobby level of ANZ Bank’s Melbourne headquarters was turned into a bustling marketplace.

There were billboard sized information displays and stalls with miniature models of office furniture. There were give-aways, games and glossary pamphlets, and a pop-up cinema complete with beanbags.

On sale was a concept, familiar to some who work at the bank’s Dockside offices, but new to most: agile working.

The bank’s own-brand of ‘scaled agile’ has been named New Ways of Workings or NWOW. Announced in May by CEO Shayne Elliott, the bank believes the organisational style and associated methodologies, will help it respond more quickly to customer needs, create higher staff engagement and boost efficiency.

With origins in software development in the early noughties, the approach has since been utilised in some way by many of the world’s biggest brands. Domestically, the likes of Australia Post, Telstra, and ANZ’s banking rivals are also realising the benefits.

There’s a lot more to it than a bulk order of Post-It notes and the buzzwords (squad, tribe, chapter, sprint) listed on the back of the marketplace map.

For those attending the introductory event last week, it will mean working with new faces, possibly in a different place, and someone else to call boss (or should that be 'coach'?).

The shake-up will also thaw what ANZ group executive of digital banking Maile Carnegie called the “frozen middle” management layer who will “resist change like death”. Elliott has confirmed that jobs will be lost as a result of the transformation.

Tasked with making NWOW stick across the bank’s Australia division is Katherine Bray, managing director products. The 'launch at scale' has a deadline of just after Australia Day next year.

“By that stage we really want to be able to look out to the floors, and see teams working differently, at scale across this organisation, across this building,” she says. “It is just a more energising, more empowering, more collaborative, higher metabolic rate way of working.”

Katherine Bray and Gerard Florian at the NWOW marketplace event last week
Katherine Bray and Gerard Florian at the NWOW marketplace event last week

Breaking down barriers

On Monday, in a room four floors above the hustle and bustle of the marketplace set-up, Bray and group executive technology Gerard Florian met with CIO Australia and other media outlets to discuss the ambitious project.

At the entrance to the NWOW ‘basecamp’ is an analog digital timer counting down towards the launch. By then, ANZ expects around 4,000 staff to have transitioned to its NWOW.

“Actually I don’t think we really bought into that urgency until the morning everyone came in and it had fallen below 200 days. And there was a sudden reaction like ‘oh my goodness’,” Bray says.

Bray’s team is 13 “intensive” weeks into the effort, which is itself being run agile (“We’re practicing what we preach,” Bray notes).

“[We’re] moving from the software developers delivering projects, technology stuff, which is not uncommon and part of our history, to actually working like this at scale across the organisation. Not just in the way that we build new stuff, and change, but actually in the way that we run the bank. Very much the day to day running of the bank,” says Bray, wearing a bright blue NWOW tee-shirt under her business blazer.

“We’re talking about breaking down the functional barriers of our business, and organising ourselves in these multidisciplinary teams, leveraging agile practices,” she adds.

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Tags sprintKatherine BraytribeGerard FlorianfinanceagileAgile methodologychapterwaterfallscaled agileANZANZ Banking Group LtdtechnologyMaile CarnegiebankingShayne ElliottNew Ways of WorkingKanbanSquadscrumAgile methodologies

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