"The business had never delivered anything this big, and the programme was failing".  Diane Ashton-Jeanes explains her project saving change management strategy.

(NB for the stress article, click here)

In this winning case study, presented at the 2009 Institute of Interim Management Case Study Finals Night 2009, Diane Ashton-Jeanes explains her strategy to deliver a major change management programme in a high street bank.

1.      Summary Profile

A dynamic and highly effective interim leader of large scale, complex business change programmes, used to operating at business unit Board level and above in leading Financial Services organisations. Successfully delivered many transformational and post acquisition initiatives with significant organisational, people, process and IT elements, across multiple functions and legal entities.

Broad business and IT knowledge and experience, combined with the interpersonal skills and leadership abilities to assess situations quickly, bring clarity to strategic requirements and harness in-house capability to implement effectively and realise benefits.  Recognised as a successful troubleshooter, especially where people issues are constraining delivery or destabilising the business. Quickly builds credibility and strong loyalty with client teams. 

instituteofinterimmanagement2.      The Client

The MD of a major high street Premier bank. He had a problem and he wanted someone he trusted to tell him how it really was, and to help him fix it.

3.      The Problem Statement

Client experience was inconsistent and complaint levels were escalating. A strategic programme of change had been initiated to transform the business operation and enhance client experience across the UK. The business had never delivered anything this big, and the programme was failing. My healthcheck indicated:


The programme set up was typical of a small project in a small business, reflecting the lack of experience in large-scale change programmes and the associated disciplines.


4.      Programme Scope:


  • Re-engineer the business operating model, lead a multi-disciplined team to implement across the business – sales, operations and partners (process model, premises refurbishment and demise, HR, internal & external communication, training and IT)
  • Consolidate 17 UK support centres into 5, with associated redundancy (300 FTE), recruitment (95 FTE) and training (700 FTE), rationalising management structure. Centralise core functions which were key areas of client dissatisfaction into one of the 5 remaining centres
  • Migrate inbound client telephony to a specialist call centre across two sites. Recruit 80 FTE and train 300 FTE to maintain and improve client telephony experience
  • Implement document imaging, remove paper from 17 back office sites and provide location independent electronic retrieval
  • Implement IT to provide appointment booking & client contact management across all business areas involved in client service
  • Communicate with clients, staff and other bank areas
  • During implementation it became necessary to move all Premier IT applications onto industry and bank standard infrastructure to improve resilience and support


5.      Implementation
Using Kurt Lewin’s unfreeze – change – refreeze model of organisational change:

5.1    Unfreeze (Engagement of client)

Two weeks of detailed work were completed to achieve full engagement with all relevant stakeholders, and prepare a viable plan for presentation to the main Retail Bank board. My approach was to:

  • Brief the delivery team: thanking them for work so far, advising that things were going to be different, indicating what was expected from them during this time, and that I was only interested in facts. They were told we needed to expose all gaps, issues, conflicts, challenges and risks, come up with a plan we all believed in and had the best chance of delivering and meeting the business case. I told them it didn’t matter what the answer was, as long as it was a viable one. My job was to manage the senior stakeholders, and theirs was to help work out how we could get the right things done as soon as possible.
  • Present to the Premier bank board on healthcheck findings and next steps.
  • Meet with the COO of the Retail bank with my healthcheck, advise that some aspects of the business case were not achievable and that in 2 weeks I required his support in agreeing the delivery plan that would then go to the Retail board.
  • Structure the programme into workstreams and facilitate workshops for each one to establish scope, RAIDs, resources, plans and costs. This process set the tone of the programme.
  • Meet with non Premier stakeholders and gain their commitment for the programme.
  • Present to Premier and Retail boards and gain full sign off and support.


5.2    Move (Achieving the Outcome):

iim2My delivery model focuses on three things: Leadership, people and processes. The context of the programme determines the balance during the life cycle. If the balance is right, delivery happens.

All three areas were below par so this is what was needed:

Leadership – bringing in an interim expert who knew what to do and how to do it fixed this. An expert in people, project, IT and big change management. I applied all the relevant tools in my bag, rolled up my sleeves, set a good example and supported people through the change.

Processes – Implemented project management disciplines, rigour, comprehensive input from all. Value add processes only. Selling the benefits of using the processes. Implemented Lean.

Documenting and making target operating model processes real to people who will do them.

People – this was the major focus: coaching, mentoring, training, cajoling, disciplining, listening, negotiating, teaching, rewarding, having fun, supporting, explaining, focussing, publicising successes.

 5.3    Refreeze (Lasting Impact):

  • Post implementation review completed across team and published across the Retail bank and parts of the Group.
  • Project Management Tools used in all Premier bank projects going forward.
  • Follow up workshops with operations, sales force and partners to ensure any teething problems were addressed.
  • Big party for delivery team across all divisions involved, with fun “Oscar Awards” where nominees as well as winners gained acknowledgement and reinforcement of behaviours. This was unprecedented, so very special.
  • Delivery team coached in including their efforts and achievements into the banks appraisal and promotion schemes (with good results).

The final word goes to the delivery team, who were asked on successful completion what words described their experience. These ones came up time after time: 

Exciting                       Challenging                      Fast-paced                     Educating                Rewarding.


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