Twinxter helps international bank with Obeya transformation process

27 March 2024 Consultancy.eu 5 min. read

When the HR leadership team of Austria-based Erste Group Bank wanted to effectively prioritise its key objectives for the coming years, and align those to the bank’s overarching strategy, they setup a so-called Obeya room. Transformation partner Twinxter led them through the process.

Literally meaning ‘Big Room’ in Japanese, the Obeya is a common workspace where teams from different functions and segments gather to strategize, collaborate and coordinate. The walls of an Obeya are traditionally covered with paper boards, process flows, sticky notes, and other material that capture ideas, plans, decisions, and more.

The use of Obeya is rapidly gaining ground in many Western European markets, on the back of the several benefits it offers to both management teams as well as staff.

Twinxter helps leading bank with Obeya transformation process

Beyond the more obvious plus of centralising all relevant information in one place and breaking down siloes so that everyone can connect with the bigger picture, an Obeya is a space which bridges cross-functional functions and aligns teams. This allows for constructive thinking from all participants, encouraging collaboration and engagement, and enabling companies to quickly build for improvement in the face of key challenges.

This is what led the HR-leaders of leading international financial services institution Erste Group Bank, to look to create its own Obeya – particularly for its human resources function, so to better align with the broader business.

Amid changing expectations from within and outside the bank, a new approach was required – one where the focus was on prioritisation, alignment and solving problems from a joint perspective and in a collaborative way, rather than the traditional siloed one – encouraging unified collaboration and engagement throughout the department.

Deploying an Obeya

However, the size and stature of the bank – as well as long-ingrained business practices and hierarchies – meant this was easier said than done. Founded over two centuries ago, Erste Group Bank is one of the leading financial service providers in the Central Eastern Europe region, operating in seven markets, with around 45,000 employees and more than 16 million customers.

This scale meant there were always new tasks for the HR department to undertake, so as is often the case with transformation efforts, demands and requests came from various sources, leading the HR department’s leadership to spend more time firefighting than forming a plan for all group-wide initiatives.

The Obeya was setup to provide a clear and integral roadmap for improvement going forward. The HR leadership team brought in consulting firm Twinxter to guide the process.

“Drawing on agile, lean six sigma and systems thinking methods, our work on the Obeya marked a positive change in the way the HR leadership team operated,” explained Alize Hofmeester, managing partner at Twinxter.

“The Obeya is a central space that provides an overview on the strategic initiatives and processes aligned to the overall purpose, and has a meeting rhythm to regularly meet, openly review, and discuss the strategic challenges facing the business, as well as bringing the priorities and risks to the fore.”

According to Hofmeester, the implementation was a journey of “experimenting, reflecting, learning and adapting”, helping the bank’s members discover and decide what they wanted to achieve, and how to visualise the information needed. With Twinxter’s support, the HR team started building a space that provided an immediate overview on the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the bank’s HR priorities within the business.

Charting how the process moved forward, Hofmeester said, “The adoption of this new leadership system brought change from the get-go. After becoming familiar with the philosophy behind this concept and gaining a better understanding of the principles, the conversations soon moved from a local level to a strategic level, with the definition of cross-border strategic pillars and signature solutions.”

Results

Since the engagement, the HR leadership team reports that the outcomes have been “very positive”. There is now an improved focus and alignment on problem-solving across the HR functions, with a common space provided for planning and discussing.

This has helped create a clear link and alignment between purpose, strategy and execution, along with easy to digest visualisation of strategy, key initiatives, status and obstacles. There is now also a clearer rhythm for dialogue and a structured space for reflection and celebration, while the HR team’s management of its portfolio, projects and budget has been simplified.

Meanwhile, the Obeya allowed for integration of several further other methodologies to be applied to the team’s governance, such as OKR and waterfall – further improving overall productivity.

The bank’s former Chief Human Resource Officer Adriano Bruno stated, “Our transformation team helped us design our agile change, develop the change journey, and build a strong, purpose-led leadership team. Followed by deciding what the best operating model would be and how we can align on strategic priorities.”

“Twinxter were essential to the success of our transformation. Their expertise, open and seamless collaborative style always struck a great balance between adjusting to our needs and pushing us to remain on the right path. I can gladly recommend working with Twinxter’s team and would call on their expertise any time such a transformation is required.”