A further aspect of the digital banks I am talking with is that they have reviews all the time. Not formal reviews, but fast meetings with the business people, designers, developers and even audit and compliance all around the table. It is quick, frequent and informal unlike the old industrial organisation which has long, annual and formal meetings. That is the spirit of being agile.
It reminded me of a company I visited in the 1990s and all of their meetings took place standing up. When I asked why, they told me that when people are sitting, they talk longer. So stand-up meetings were it. In fact, if you want to get a sense of what meetings used to be like, there is a well out-of-date but very funny, and very true to life back in the last century, video of John Cleese on meetings.
The meeting would have a formal agenda and formal chair, an assistant to document the meeting and all parties invited to have their say during the meeting. I remember going to a meeting in the 1990s about a tradeshow that was coming up and we took two hours discussing the bag that would be given away. Should it be black or brown; real or faux leather; what logo and writing to put on it; etc, etc. Yawn. God, it was boring. To me, it’s like today’s conference calls.
Anyways, the fast-moving digital banks focus upon quick and regular communication. It’s similar to the movement away from email to chatroom.
Emails used to be a way of CYA. You copy anyone and everyone who you think needs to see it, in order to make sure you’ve Covered Your Ass. And the email trail would pick up like a snowball, getting longer and longer and bigger and bigger and harder and harder to digest. No wonder emails are unnatural and, again, I met a firm back in the 1990s that would only allow an email to have a title. No content. Just a title. That was their way of fast communicating.
Today, in this world of Slack, Twitter, WeChat and Whatsapp, we talk non-stop. We chat. We don’t send limitless garbage that needs to be printed out to work out what the hell is being discussed. We just talk non-stop.
These two 21st century ways of communicating are making a fantastic difference to life on office. Equally, the final one is the hot desk policy. Work from home or work in the office. Work wherever you want. Just keep in touch.
My hot desks are in hotel rooms. But I met one bank that was moving from analogue to digital, and they really struggled with this. What? I won’t have a desk? Where will I sit?
They got over it and made an analogy to when you were being at home. Home is the building, it is not a room. The bank is the place and the culture, not a desk. So yes, now they hot desk and it works well. But they do more than that. They regular brainstorm and whiteboard. They have spontaneous meetings and idea generation. They don’t have to gather all the people and get all the agenda locked down.
So, a critical factor in today’s modern company is that everyone has an open door for communication, digitally and physically. There are no formalities, except for sign-off of critical moments, but the build-up to any formal sign-off is formed from hundreds of reviews and thousands of chats. What a great way to work and it’s not specific to digital banking. It’s specific to digital transformation. The office of 2020 is very different to the office of 2000 or 1980. It’s fast and agile. Is that how your office works?