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Danske Bank begins process of creating autonomous development teams

Danish bank begins the process of changing how thousands of its staff work as it attempts to be more responsive to digital demand

Danske Bank has begun the process of changing how IT and business development staff are organised, as it attempts to be more responsive to what customers want.

The Danish bank plans to put thousands of IT and business development staff in autonomous teams made up of people who, when combined, have all the competencies need for every stage of development. It is part of the bank’s Better Ways of Working initiative announced in June.

The first 700 staff of a planned 5,000 have now moved to the new way of working. As part of the first round of changes, 156 jobs – mainly coordinating roles – have been made redundant, but more than half the staff affected were found new roles at the company, and 63 staff are leaving.

“We are sorry that we have to say goodbye to a number of skilled employees, but this is a natural outcome of our ongoing work on becoming more efficient, including working in other ways. We will, of course, do our best to help the affected employees on with their careers in the best possible way,” said Lars Alstrup, lead of the Better Ways of Working initiative at Danske Bank.

He added that the changes are part of the bank’s modernisation. “Our customers increasingly request and use our digital solutions, and our new initiative is thus an essential part of our work on being a modern bank that customers find easy to use,” he said.

Under the new model the teams, known as Squads, will be autonomous with the needs of customers rather than management the main driver. Squads will belong to bigger Tribes, or collections of Squads, that contribute to the bank’s business strategy.

When the plan was announced earlier in June, Frans Woelders, Danske Bank’s chief operating officer, said: “We want to give the employees wide roads with high curbs. In other words, we want to give them autonomy, and they need to listen to the needs of the customers, instead of what we think in the management.”  

A Danske Bank statement said: “700 employees now embark on a more efficient and less hierarchical way of working that is aimed at enabling Danske Bank to provide better customer experiences and react faster to changing customer behaviour.”

When the Better Ways of Working initiative is fully up and running, around 5000 employees, mainly in IT and business development departments, will be set up differently. “The outcome will be less bureaucracy and more flexibility for employees in their daily work,” said the bank.

The bank said it will take time for the benefits of the changes to be visible, but the changes were necessary in the current business climate where digital transformation is changing customer demand.

The Covid-19 pandemic will also change how Danske Bank organises its staff in the future. Recently, it said: “The Covid-19 experience of sending [thousands] from the office to work from home will now have a lasting impact on how work is structured and conducted at Danske Bank.”

Chris Vogelzang, CEO at Danske Bank, said: “This experience has proven that there is so much untapped potential in the virtual workspace that we need to explore and use to create a more attractive and flexible workplace, while still maintaining the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment.”

Squads and Tribes at Danske Bank

Squad:

  • Multi-disciplinary small group of people trained to work together as a unit.
  • The core unit of an agile organisation.
  • Has a clear and specific mission that contributes to the Tribe’s mission and is end-to-end responsible to deliver it. 

Tribe:

  • A collection of Squads that contributes to the Tribe’s and the bank’s strategy and goals.
  • Has a flat organisation.
  • Has a clear mission, purpose, business objectives and metrics – and holds end-to-end responsibility to deliver on them.
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