Anyone can become agile – but it's not always easy

Digitalization is changing our society. Companies are taking action. Things are getting faster, businesses are becoming more global, and customers expect round-the-clock availability of products and services.

As a bank, it goes without saying that we are positioning ourselves for this change. Our customers' needs are what drives our thoughts and actions. Everything revolves around the customer. In an agile working environment, customer needs can be optimally translated into the development and ongoing adaptation of products and services, which can be bought to market much more quickly than in the past. That's why we at ING have started down the path of becoming the first agile bank in Germany.

Tribes, squads, chapters – never fear change
How do you create an agile organization? The easiest way is to learn from the best, get inspired and adapt what you've learned to meet your own needs. To do this, several ING teams have gone out to observe companies that are already using agile structures successfully. Zappos, Spotify and Netflix are just a few of the most well-known companies that our ING experts visited in their effort to develop a completely new organizational structure based on "Tribes, Squads and Chapters".

The development of an agile working environment generates multiple benefits for the organization as a whole and for individual employees. Through improved knowledge sharing, new ideas can be implemented and tested more quickly. A lot of testing and a good dose of trial and error are important, even if that approach does not mesh well with many company cultures.

In the end, time-to-market and time-to-volume will accelerate for products. To facilitate this change, it is important to improve employee engagement, increase individual responsibility and shorten decision-making paths. Teams set their own priorities and try new things. In their tribes and squads, they are ultimately responsible for their projects or products – from beginning to end.

Both employee motivation and satisfaction improve as a result of this new way of working. The fact that our employees enjoy their jobs is what makes us such an attractive employer – particularly in the competitive area of IT.

Anyone can become agile – but it's not always easy
The introduction of an agile work environment takes meticulous preparation and planning. Each and every employee must be involved in the journey through clear communications and training programs. And, perhaps, most importantly: you need the right mindset. This must begin at the very top. It's about letting go, trusting and empowering employees. If you can do all that, then agile working practices can become a huge success.