Business Agility 2017 in New York – Day 2 Review

Leading the Transformation

Second day and guess what? Amazing stories and insights about the transformation journey DBS has taken to emerge as a more agile organization by Paul Cobban. I still remember a reaction from someone from audience when Paulo talked about “making banking joyful for both customers and employee.

The person said in clear and loud sound “Oh my!” following by a big and surprised laugh. Usually this the reaction when people talk about the benefits of agile mind set in big and traditional industries.My wife worked for a bank for many years and believe me! She and her ex-colleagues were not living a joyful moment there.

Paul did an amazing job in walking us through DBS’s journey and the main transformation points that drove DBS culture to a wining bank among competition that were comprised by a set of practices from lean, agile, design thinking, innovation, big data and motivated people looking for change.  He make a joke about the meaning of DBS: Damn Bloody Slow but it turned out to be leading the market in Singapore’s area.

  1. Eliminate the waste: a lean approach to understand your cost per transactions or a simple metric that can help you identify waste in your day-to-day activities.
  2. Design from Customer Back: understand your client’s journey. Get close to their routine and get to know them and make all efforts to design your organization to serve and add value to them. The client is your boss not your manager, process and super fancy group of buzz words.
  3. Be data driven: when you are able to combine and match data (structured and unstructured data) with client’s information the magic happens. Decisions can be more effective and the impact in terms of value that client perceives is huge.
  4. Create a culture of innovation: Allow people to experiment and try new ideas then let them fail and learn from the experience. I bring this sentence with me every time I am struggling on how to implement something:  Start small and grow fast!
  5. Codify the culture: make sure everyone is talking and walking the speech. Lean practices to eliminate the waste, design thinking, data and innovation culture. These are the pillars that might lead your organization and clients to a new level of joyfulness


Approach and dimensions to accelerate business agility

Then, Mr. Venkateswaran NS has presented an approach and dimensions to accelerate business agility. Despite the focus on Cisco’s journey, Venkat has emphasized the 3 dimensions of business, organization and team. The only way to accelerate business agility is leading by example in all three dimensions. The key is consistently seeks eliminate wastes and focus on what really matters. Most of companies put a tremendous effort in planning a strategy (layer 1) then defining tactical plans (layer 2)  but usually leaders forget about the underneath culture which should be taken care with the same dedication of the previous ones.

Iceberg Day2


Innovation Agility

So what about Innovation Agility?  I had the pleasure to facilitate a table where Mr. Singh was participating actively after his presentation. He did share great thoughts on innovation agility. Starring with the classic Kodak’s example, at one time the fourth largest company in the US disappeared and unfortunately it’s not an anomaly. There is no stability moment anymore. If companies wants to survive, leaders must foster a culture of continuous innovation focused on starting small, set up incubator or experimental labs and share learning across the enterprise.

The key is fostering entrepreneur behavior and actions within the organization allowing people to reduce uncertainty by experimenting and trying then Inspect & adapt as they move along. In other words, get rid of “command and control” leadership style to help people to master their skills on something that really matter with purpose and autonomy. The key message shared by Mr. Singh is to make customers the center of your innovation program. Be curious, discover, put together some hypothesis, seed round one funding, learn and validate your idea, improve and define seek for a round two funding. Focus on your MVP!

People & Engagement

The importance of people in VUCA time! Fabiola Eyholzer did an amazing job presenting her thoughts on boost Business Agility with Contemporary Human Resource practices. We live in VUCA times! So how do we deal with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity with traditional HR practices that does not address the digital world we live and work nowadays?  Fabiola has emphasized that HR plays a big role in finding new ways to engage people and the benefits felt by the company and people in shareholders returns, revenue and annual net incomes. Amazing data that demonstrate those benefits. How to do it? How to engage people? Create inspiring and engaging workplaces where people can explore their talents, collaborate more, feel trust in all relationships with their colleagues, feel, and perceive that they are a part of the whole.

These were the key topics that have caught my attention! I hope the summary shed some light in your search for agile wisdom! For more information about this amazing conference, please access:

Great memories and ton of learning!  Be safe!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.