In order to retain sales and cross-sell new products, a Banking Giant needed to re-think the Back Office operations model of its most profitable unit. The strategic goals included:

  • Develop pro-active customer relationships.
  • Prepare for the shutdown of a 30+ year old piece of software.

The business unit decided to apply Design Methods to explore possibilities.

Design Research took 6 weeks – and provoked considerable scepticism. But it changed everything.

What We Did – Applied the Powers of Ten (Charles & Ray Eames)

  • Interviewed and shadowed all Back Office, Risk, Control, and Audit roles.
  • Ran Therapy Sessions.
  • Organised and delivered Co-Creation Sessions to explore new ways of working.
  • Mandated participation for Stakeholders to join us on shadowing sessions as note-takers.
  • Held open-door analysis sessions of research-in-progress.
  • Read Strategy & Vision documents, and Standard Operating Procedure Manuals.
  • Learned about International Regulations, Industry Standards, and Company Policy.
  • Crunched data.

Next, Synthesis – Making sense of the inputs

  • Mapped universe of the bank – from international regulations to individual roles.
  • Proposed 3 root causes which formed the building blocks for proposal evaluation.
  • Workshopped and defined a measurement framework that cascaded Strategy from Company through Business Unit through Team to Job Role, ensuring all goals wove together.
  • Ran several co-creation workshops to prototype hypothetical solutions.
  • Documented a backlog of hypotheses/ideas and how to prioritise them.

We ran 3 experiments:

1 x Business Design
1 x Digital Prototype
1 x Marie Kondo-ing a process

Employees contributed to the new way of working, live, as we developed it.


“Pure brilliance” said the Project Owner. After working through the uncomfortable bits, the Project Sponsor declared, “there’s no turning back.”

The vocabulary and methodology refined throughout the project became the lingua franca. Employees felt confident with the new way of working – they had built it. They served as mentors for the next cohort embarking on the process.

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