More flexible, faster, better: We’re agile

More flexible, faster, better: We’re agile

Everything revolves around making our customers happy. If it’s important to them, then it’s very important to us. That’s why we use agile working practices to react even faster and with greater flexibility. But what does that even mean?

Most of us work in small units that deliver quick results that work. We usually plan in short-term project cycles called “sprints”. We go through regular correction rounds and readjust continuously. This allows us to do away with classic project plans with fixed requirements. This has made us Germany’s first agile bank. Our way of agile working leads to really good results and that makes us happy, not just our customers.

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Agile is a way of thinking and a philosophy that aims to make developments and processes more flexible. This means that organizations can adapt and react more quickly to the rapid changes in the market. Agile working practices come from the IT world, primarily from scrum. The expression encompasses various connected tools, principles and methods, such as scrum, lean and kanban. These methods are proven to improve efficiency, productivity and the speed with which customer needs are fulfilled in a quickly changing environment. With direct customer feedback and clear and short time periods, products and services can be developed more quickly and more flexibly.

An Agile Coach (AC) supports two to five Squads and focusses on the further development of the Squads as well as on the individual growth of each team member. Having an agile mindset is critical to the success of the agile transformation. You need to be open to new things and willing to change constantly. Learn how to see opportunities in everything you do. Show your initiative in your day-to-day work and in your personal development. Agile working is built on the Orange Code and our personal behavior.

Backlog Refinement Session

Backlog Refinement Session: A session is held every week to adjust and assess the backlog. It focuses on large tasks and sub-tasks in the Product Backlog where something must be clarified, improved or advanced. The refinement is the requirement that makes it possible to work on a User Story within a Sprint.


The Backlog is a list of all requirements and pending work orders that must be fulfilled in order to complete a Squad’s assignment.

Centre of expertise (CoE)

The Centre of Expertise (CoE) is an organizational unit comprised of individuals with specialized expertise that cannot be passed on to the tribes in their entirety. The members of this team take on special tasks either independently or in a team with squads.

Centre of Expertise Lead (CoEL)

The Centre of Expertise Lead (CoEL) concerns him or herself with the “how” and “what” of the CoE. This person reports, depending on the type of CoE, either to a Tribe Leader or an Executive Board Member.


Chapters are made up of eight to ten employees and are a collection of Squad members with the same specific expertise or the same competencies. Members come from the same organizational unit.

Chapter Lead (CL)

The Chapter Lead (CL) is the leader of a Chapter. They ensure that employees in the chapter develop personally and work well within the Squads. The CL determines how (working practices) the individual people with specific specialist knowledge work. The CL spends 60 percent of his or her time collaborating within a Squad. The other 40 percent is invested in the professional development and management of the chapter members. The CL is the hierarchical manager of the Chapter members.


A Circle is a group of related CLTs that work on the same kind of customer requests. A Circle consists of 55 people at most or five to seven CLTs. A Circle is responsible for allocating customers and workloads among the CLTs.

Circle Lead

The Circle Lead takes care of high-performing teams within the Circle in cooperation with the Agile Coaches, with the goal of securing a predominating mindset of constant progress. He or she ensures collaboration between the CLTs in the Circle in order to offer customers the best service every day, while respecting the autonomy of individual CLTs.

Customer Journey Expert

A Customer Journey Expert possesses marketing, product management and/or economic expertise. They ensure that the Squad works according to the customer’s perspective. They can approve and promote any changes or further developments to existing products by initiating new Epics, Features and Stories. A Customer Journey Expert can take on the role of PO within a Squad.

Customer Loyalty Team (CLT)

A Customer Loyalty Team (CLT) is responsible for ensuring adherence to a consistent Way of Working based on the Personal Emotional Connection (PEC).

Customer-related Mission

Customer-related Mission: we want to offer our customers a unique experience. That’s why, for example, all product developments or adaptations are aligned to customer needs.

Daily Stand-up, Daily Scrum Meeting

Daily Stand-up, Daily Scrum Meeting: Every Squad holds a Daily Stand-up Meeting with all members, led by the PO. Within 15 to 30 minutes, the current status and direction of tasks and activities on the Scrum Board are assessed.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is about achieving the maximum creative potential of every project participant in order to facilitate the resolution of complex tasks. Its principles include working visually as much as possible, allowing for crazy ideas and holding back criticism. The user, that is the customer, is always at the center.

Definition of Done (DoD)

Definition of Done (DoD) is the list of requirements that must be met by a team in order to consider a Story done. The team is only finished with a backlog item when the DoD is achieved.

Definition of Ready (DoR)

Definition of Ready (DoR) comprises the requirements that a Story must fulfill in order to be processed or put in a Sprint. The team decides whether backlog items correspond to the DoR.


Epic is a description of how to achieve a goal, e.g. the development of a product within a period of three to twelve months. The Epic can be broken down into Features.

Expertise Lead (EL)

The Expertise Lead (EL) is responsible for the professional development of the experts and the development of expertise. He or she also decides upon the optimal distribution of expertise among local units.


The Feature reflects a sub-goal that meets the needs of users and stakeholders that can be delivered on within one to six Sprints.

Global Transformation Office (GTO)

The Global Transformation Office (GTO) is the main driver of global change topics that contribute to the COO Vision 2020. They promote international interaction between countries and business areas.

IT Area Lead (ITAL)

The IT Area Lead (ITAL) helps the Tribe Lead to define the Tribe’s IT direction. He or she is the leader of the IT Chapter Lead and is responsible for the professional development of IT experts and for helping them reach their potential. The ITAL also ensures cross-tribe checks and IT continuity.


Kanban is a Japanese term for a “signboard” that shows “available capacities” (to work). It offers teams the opportunity to visualize their work, recognize and fix bottlenecks and to achieve fast improvements in throughput and quality. It is a means of step-by-step improvement for any business area, whether it’s software development, IT/Ops, personnel, recruiting, marketing, sales and acquisition.

KPI – Key Performance Indicator

KPI – Key Performance Indicators are key figures that help to evaluate the services and productivity of a company.


A milestone is a relevant interim goal within a development.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the initial version of a product (prototype) that has to be developed in order to meet customer needs with minimal effort and guarantee feedback. This is followed by continuous development of the product.

Modern Agile

The Modern Agile mindset is about making people awesome. Our customers, employees and the bank. That’s why we care about your needs, your environment, any obstacles and your goals. Safety is both a basic human need and the foundation upon which peak performance is built.

Obeya Room

The Obeya Room is a physical location used by management where all the relevant information on strategy, regulatory requirements and prioritized topics are hung on the walls. It provides an overview of the entire process, challenges and opportunities.

Objective Key Results (OKR)

The Objective Key Results (OKR) are comprised of two components. The objectives are qualitative, and the goals and Key Results are quantitative and act as SMART indicators for the level of goal fulfillment.

One Agile Way of Working

The One Agile Way of Working (OAWOW) is based on the global Think Forward Strategy, it follows a clear purpose and it harmonizes with the agile manifesto. Collaboration is the key to successful transformation.


PACE is the structured innovation process at ING. It supports quicker launches of new products and services developed by small, autonomous, multi-disciplinary teams. PACE connects design thinking, lean startup and agile methods and harmonizes them with the needs of the ING-adapted process. PACE forces us to get validation from our customers in order to ensure that we only provide resources when we are convinced that our innovations will improve their lives.

Planning Session

Planning Session: For every Sprint, there is a planning meeting in which any to-dos for the next Sprint are added to the Sprint Backlog. Here, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is defined, and the tasks for the next Sprint are discussed and the team decides which topics to prioritize in the Sprint backlog.

POCLAC Meeting

A POCLAC Meeting is a regular exchange between Product Owners, Chapter Leads and Agile Coaches to discuss the composition of the tribe and squads, as well as to clarify obstacles and to support the development of squads.

Portfolio Wall

The Portfolio Wall provides a clear overview of future topics (in the next six months) for all Squads within a Tribe. It shows Epics on-time with the relevant features and the collaborating Squads.

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is a sorted list of everything that could be needed for the Squads’ work. It contains all current and future features, functions, requirements and extensions.

Product Owner (PO)

The Product Owner (PO) is responsible for the “what” (operational level) within a Squad and for maximizing the values of work done. The PO determines Stories and sets priorities regarding the squad’s postponed work.

Quarterly Business Review (QBR)

The Quarterly Business Review (QBR) helps the Tribe Lead and the Executive Board to define the overarching “Milestones” (Epics and Features) for the next quarter. The milestones create the groundwork for the detailed planning of tasks for the next two weeks (“Sprint”).

ING Reference Model

The transformation is based on the ING Reference Model from the GTO. However, there is no fixed template that we follow on a 1-to-1 basis. The design of the OAWOW structure is created step-by-step.


Conducting a Retrospective is an important technique of continuous improvement in agile methods. It involves reflection upon the work done in a past Sprint, as well as the identification of difficulties and, based on that knowledge, the definition of concrete measures for improvement in the future. In order to create a safe space for open communication, it should only involve the members of the respective squad and the Agile Coach.


Review: When a Sprint is finished, a review is held with the respective stakeholders (e.g. the task initiator, involved parties and interfaces), in which the current status of goal achievement (e.g. the first MVP) is shown and discussed.


Roles describe the professional function or work responsibilities of a person.

Scrum Board (Kanban)

Scrum Board (Kanban) shows the current ongoing tasks of the Sprint and their status. Impediments are also listed as part of the Scrum board. The highest priority items are listed at the top of the board.


Scrum uses an iterative, incremental product development controlling approach that increases speed and flexibility. By acknowledging that a problem cannot be completely understood or defined, scrum instead focusses on maximizing the team’s ability to deliver quickly, react and adapt. The process includes a feedback loop between the business and output of the Squad.


A Sprint is standardized to last two weeks. A new Sprint begins immediately after the conclusion of the previous one. During a Sprint, no changes are made which could endanger the goal of the Sprint. The scope can be decided on by the PO and the group and renegotiated after more is learned.

Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is the summary of points in the Product Backlog that were selected for the Sprint including the test and provision phase, which are needed for the improvement of the product and the attainment of the Sprint’s goal. It represents the planned approach of the Sprint.


Stakeholders depend on the order and task, and may include customers, interfaces (areas), colleagues, regulators, shareholders, authorities, other ING Units, and countries.

Super Circle

A Super Circle is a collection of several circles that are jointly responsible for the delivery of excellent services with relation to various processes and/or customer requests.

Super Circle Lead (SCL)

The Super Circle Lead (SCL) creates a clear purpose and a shared vision for the Super Circle. He or she ensures an open and transparent exchange of information within the Super Circle and coordinates with internal and external stakeholders of the Super Circle.


A Tribe is a conglomeration of various Squads with the same task or with a focus on the same target group or unit. It consists of max. 150 employees. A Tribe ensures that the Squads can complete their work more easily and supports them in achieving their goals.

Tribe Lead (TL)

The Tribe Lead (TL) coordinates a Tribe. The TL ensures the direction of the Tribe, sets general priorities, and keeps the Tribes aligned with one another in cooperation with the other TLs.

User Stories

User Stories are the targets and tasks named in User Stories and described in various sub-activities – they are part of the Product Backlog.
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