The Pursuit of Nirvana in Banking

I am in pursue of finding a scalable, practical and way of beings for scaling agile which empowers Release on Demand (RoD) in order to foster culture of innovation, institutionalize purpose-driven product experience design and streamline the team collaboration for a strong flow to deliver maximum value for users (either customers or internal users that serve customers ultimately). A method that can really work in a corporate with over hundreds of engineers and away from all its politics and theoretical world.

At Techcombank (TCB), we amalgamated a way of being from various techniques such as Spotify agile model, SAFe, architecture design patterns, lean management and knowledge worker motivation paradigms into a model that helped us in TCB to achieve our nirvana in retail digital banking, retail digital lending and SME digital banking.

This amalgamated way of being is hard to depict in a picture as its dynamic is a flow like a river. However, to illustrate the way of being, the following figure is showing how we structured our teams which is based on techniques like Domain Driven Design and our game-changing architecture which is micro-frontends, micro-services and micro-database that impose a significant challenge on traditional organization charts.

There are some key pillars for our way of being. First pillar is based on Motivation theory (the study of understanding what drives a knowledge worker to work towards a particular goal or outcome) that helped us to build an intrinsically motivated and purposeful team. We had three key components, (1) autonomy, we trust our team to take an extreme ownership of their work and skill development, (2) mastery, we give enough time and context to our team in order to improve their skills and become expert and (3) purpose, we always ask “why”, it is crucial for our team to know “why” are they building and how their skills is shaping the future.

Second pillar is our flow efficiency and its metrics. Flow efficiency is a quantitative relation between value-adding time and the lead time required to complete a process. Value-adding is when a person or a machine is actively working towards the completion of a given target. Lead time is the frame between the order and delivery of the product. We religiously measure wait & blocked time and had a clear roles and playbooks to remove the impediments and let the flow flows.

The third pillar is our Release-on-Demand (RoD) approach adaptation from SAFe. RoD is about putting customer into center of our way of being. We have four activities, Releases (the customer value train that consist of techniques like dark release, feature toggles, canary releases and decouple release strategy), Stabilization & Operation (there is no point of delivering a feature to customer if functional or non-functional requirements are not met, we adopted practices like failover & DR, architect for operations and design to remove frictions), measure & learn from our last two activities and try to close the loop faster, a learning from Lean Startup.

The goal of Purpose-Driven Product Experience Design is to give people (users, customers, staffs, stakeholders, call centers, etc) their time back. Purpose-Driven Product Experience Design must accomplish this by running an efficient process and by designing products that reduce friction.

The fourth pillar is our Team Charter. Team Charter is a living artifact that defines the purpose of team existence, our way of being, what we value, answers to various WHYs and what is our SMART common goals.

Our new way of being delivered a successful transformation. We revamped and transformed to achieve hundreds of releases a year, we built a team charter which is our North star and in time of desperations is our drive and we delivered many innovative features for retail & SME customers that made us become the most loved product by our users. Here are few video examples of our team innovation on a large-scale in banking industry:

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