How ANZ are building a culture that is adaptable and resilient in the face of high paced change

Written by Brent McHutchison, Agile Enablement Stream Lead, ANZ


For our 21st Century world, the process of digitalisation is producing both a hunger for better customer experiences and  also driving the appetite for speed.  A customer’s last best digital experience is now the standard by which all future digital experiences are measured. And this includes speed. Today’s customer  view of “fast” is significantly faster than five years ago. So now we are dealing with accelerating change. Alongside this is the new ability of customers to significantly leverage this digitalisation of their world so that a customer complaint can rapidly explode via social media into a full-blown PR disaster for an organisation.   This is the very definition of a complex system where minor inputs can result in large, unpredictable outcomes.  Traditional financial services, such as banks, now find themselves in this context. At the same time, the technology  barriers for delivering services are rapidly lowering.  The only thing halting the tsunami of change is regulation and the  capital requirements for banking.   But change here has already started and will also accelerate. “Open Banking” is just  the start. For many of these traditional enterprises, they have been around long enough that their  technology stacks  and people systems are both complicated and complex. This legacy mix makes timely responsiveness almost impossible.

In this environment, responsiveness has become more important than predictability.  The concepts of adaptability and resilience are fundamental to responsiveness. So what is ANZ doing to become the sort of adaptive and resilient organisation that can survive and thrive in an environment of increased competition, and rapid and unpredictable change?  ANZ has chosen to deal with these challenges by undertaking a significant transformation program to become a leading digital bank.  Let’s first note that it is not about an “agile” transformation. Though agile constructs such as those used at Spotify, ING, and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), inform the hybrid NWOW model adopted by ANZ.  This multi-year change also should not be considered as technology-focussed. Rather it is about transforming the culture so that adaptability and resilience is built into our people, processes, structures, and technologies, with a genuine customer focus as the core. Five executive-led components inform this transformation which is called New Ways of Working, colloquially known as “N-WOW”:

 A new vision for ANZ, a refresh and reiteration of ANZ’s core values, and
3 key objectives to guide the transformation:

  • Increased employee engagement so that we can retain and attract  talent
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased speed to our customers of things that are valued and innovative


How has this transformation expressed itself so far:

  • The transformation is executive lead, from the CEO down, and includes Board endorsement. This expresses itself in the CEO being part of the NWOW Design Group.
  • Talent & Culture have created and are implementing  change programs for leadership, and for every other  level.
  • Organisational roles have been simplified.
  • Organisational transformation is well underway with people organised into collaborating teams called Squads. These Squads are then part of a collective called a Tribe.
  • Tribes and Squads each have clearly articulated “missions” and execute these missions via agile ceremonies.
  • Extensive investment has been made in the development and roll out of NWOW training assets.
  • Simplification programs are underway at all levels, including investment processes, and technology


The transformation is in its infancy and there remains a great deal to do. As with all transformations, culture shift is the biggest challenge.