Oceans 11, Takers, The Town, Heist, Heat, and Point Break… just some of my favourite heist films. You might think it strange that I like nothing better than a great heist film given that my career has been built on banking.
No… it’s not some perverse gratification from seeing a bank get robbed. It’s the elements of the heist film that can, and should be applied to core banking transformations that I find riveting. Let’s break down the similarities between them:
- Just like a core banking transformation every great heist film needs a target that is nearly impossible to reach.
- Just like a core banking transformation every great heist film needs to build a team from individuals with extremely varied skill sets and backgrounds.
- Just like a core banking transformation every great heist film will use new technology to overcome an obstacle.
- Just like a core banking transformation every great heist film will build a model of their target.
- Just like a core banking transformation every great heist film will relay on their team members for the success or failure of the heist when part of the plan or a technical solution fails.
So now you’re asking what does any of this have to do with improving the success of a core banking transformation? The answer is that the methodology of a successful heist, according to common film lore, includes a component that, if included into a core banking transformation, will dramatically increase your chances of success. This component is the foundation of a new core banking transformation methodology I have been working on tentatively titled “The Heist, Ripple and Relay Methodology”.
Every successful heist film includes a scene, or a number of scenes, where the team has built a scale model of the target. The team members then walk around the model and each member of the team takes his or her turn to speak out loud their part in the heist. This ensures that every team member knows that the individuals understand their job, the process, and has a clear understanding of everyone else’s job.
Every great core banking transformation should take the time at the conceptual architectural level to complete the same heist style walkthrough with all senior members of the architectural, technical, business process, and organizational change teams. This will ensure that the master minds of the architecture understand their job, the process, and the jobs of everyone else.
I am a strong advocate of starting with small core transformation teams and growing the teams steadily with a strong “on-boarding”. The ripple effect is the process of distributing the knowledge of the conceptual target, the process, and the roles and responsibilities to the larger team as the team grows. I am not a fan of the term on-boarding. I like instead indoctrination. Although there are negative connotations related to the word indoctrination it is exactly what needs to happen. Teams need to constantly be working towards common goals. The best way to ensure that this happens is to make them walkthrough the model with their peers who have either created the target or previously been indoctrinated.
Once the larger team has been built and work is progressing the relay provides the check points to ensure that no one team or team member has gone off the tracks. It is a relay in two ways. One it is similar to a relay race in that the baton is passed from one team to another as the core banking transformation processes targets are walked through. Second it is intended for the each member of the team to relay their role, responsibility, and current status of the process at a much more granular level. The teams will speak out their inputs, their processes, and their outputs then pass the baton to the next team in the process. Again this ensures that the teams understand their jobs, the processes, and the jobs of everyone else.
Speaking the processes out loud and explaining their roles to the wider team ensures that there are no unresolved assumptions about who is doing what, when, and how. Additionally the relay is a great progress check on the process definition and maturity as it will become very clear in the telling of the process where more work is required. Most core banking transformations try to split teams and have them write detailed requirements, functional, and technical designs inside a closet. Communication between all team members is the most important thing to ensure success. Standardizing the type of and schedule for that communication will ensure it is baked into the plan and time is set aside.