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What they said

Thanks for running a successful high performance programme for our Directors… we’re excitedthat they pinpointed 106 potential barriers to high performance (known as ‘interferences’) throughout our global organisation. How would you suggest we deal with these?

The financial crisis of 2008 left many financial institutions needing to prove to regulators and to themselves that they were in business for the right reasons. Essentially, there was a legal requirement to define and promote a company purpose.

We worked with DB initially in New York, to define a purpose statement ‘we are united by our fundamental responsibility to protect…’ which we then built upon to create a wider strategic narrative, which in turn formed the basis of a high performance leadership programme.

We have so far delivered this programme to more than 1000 leaders in 12 countries as part of DB’s commitment to transform into a more efficient and more purpose-led organisation.

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What we did together

We developed and implemented a programme called Project Delta (change) which embraces the fundamental principle that those most affected by interferences, are most likely to know how to solve them.

Delta takes an organisation’s brightest minds and applies them to its toughest challenges, using costs saved to fund investments in new people, programmes and infrastructure.

In Deutsche Bank’s case, this meant looking deeper into the organisation at more junior staffers whose roles – and their ability to perform them well – were directly affected by the interferences. With sponsorship from the Managing Directors who had experienced our leadership programme, we brought together young, high-potential bankers and we asked them one question: which interference would you most like to remove, and how do you recommend we do it?

We lit the fire beneath participants in the programme and kept a light hand on the tiller for three months while they worked in their own self-selected multinational, multidisciplinary teams. They researched, interviewed, in some case brought in outside experts to help develop fully costed proposals to their leadership.

We worked with them to formulate their proposals which they made in a Dragons’ Den style pitch. In eight international markets we brought together 24 teams and made 22 proposals, of which 19 were approved for further consideration and 12 approved for investment.

Within three months every one of these showed a positive return. About half focused on cutting costs, in one instance saving 48 FTEs by developing a new automated process. Proposals focusing on income improvement generated £7m in incremental fees from the bank’s clients.

Overall we calculate a net return of just over £12m in the year following the programme.

What we learned

Delta is a very dynamic programme where we bring together individuals with high levels of energy to form cross-functional teams that are overtly empowered to deliver measurable results.

It works best when those most affected by the issues are given responsibility for solving them… this adds a personal vested interest in the solution and leads to practical, actionable proposals.

But It’s not for everyone.

Participants work extremely hard, over a short period. Applying ‘internal consultants’ in this way requires genuine empowerment and sponsorship. The organisation must be prepared to say ‘yes’ to brave proposals, and invest in them. Even if they do not succeed, there is benefit to be derived from giving young managers the opportunity to show what they can do to make change happen.

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