At ING we are keen to ensure that we always respond relevantly to our customers’ questions and needs and to market developments. We want to stay at the forefront of the market and to help our customers to stay ahead too, whether they are business clients or consumers. That goal demands rapid innovation, not only in terms of products and services and the way we approach and help customers, but also in terms of the way we work.
The Agile approach, just like Spotify, Netflix and Google
In the summer of 2015 we adopted ‘The ING Way of Working’. Since then, we’ve been largely working in line with ‘agile’ methodology, which is the same method used by companies like Spotify, Netflix and Google. ING is the first bank to have embraced this way of working. It is a revolutionary step that has had a considerable impact on our company, but it was a very conscious decision to make this change.
Three reasons for choosing agile
ING has chosen to work in line with the agile methodology for three important reasons:
We are more efficient and more flexible
We can innovate faster with shorter time to market
We are a more attractive employer; our employees have much more freedom and responsibility than in a traditional company approach.
For start-ups that are beginning from nothing, the agile approach goes without saying. In our case, it demanded a new organisational structure, a completely new way of working and a different culture, plus a new work environment. The launch of ‘agile’ was like a fresh start for us.
Agile: how does it work?
In the agile method, everyone works in squads: self-managing, autonomous units with end-to-end responsibility for a specific customer-focused project. A squad brings together colleagues from all the disciplines that are needed to complete the project successfully. At the end of the project, the squad is disbanded and the members set to work in other squads. A squad works together in a shared space. To facilitate that and to offer inspiring work spaces, the ING head office in Amsterdam has been entirely revamped and so too has our office in Leeuwarden. No one at ING in the Netherlands has their own office anymore – not even members of the board.
The squads form part of a bigger entity that operates along similar lines. Squads that are involved in the same area of work are part of an overarching tribe.
Centers of Expertise
In principle all activities are organised in squads, but we have created Centers of Expertise for scarce or specialised knowledge.
Who does what? The roles within agile
So who does what within a squad? In the agile way of working, a couple of roles are always allocated:
the Product Owner is responsible for the product to be delivered
the Chapter Lead is responsible for a specific area of expertise
the Customer Journey Expert delves deeper into the customer’s requirements
the Agile Coach helps the squad to grow and to work as a high-performance team.
Rolling out The ING Way of Working throughout the whole bank
The agile method is gradually being rolled out throughout the bank. The head office adopted The ING Way of Working in the summer of 2015 and the rest of the company is following its lead.
Read about the experiences of some of the ING employees who are already working in line with the agile method.
Cynthia de Jager - Agile Coach
‘What really matters is that our customers benefit from our agile way of working’