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OP Financial Group

Two companies, one team – agile together

Summary

Mutual openness, trust and agile practices are the cornerstones in the cooperation between OP Financial Group and Nordic Morning.

Agile {adj.}: able to move quickly and easily, nimble, dexterous.

What is the outcome when an organization of thousands of employees changes its entire operating model practically overnight? Nothing good, many might think. Surprisingly, the truth is something else.

At the beginning of 2019 OP Financial Group did a crash course into agile working once and for all by adopting new methods basically overnight. In the reform, the old organisational structures and roles gave way to a new, agile approach.

The agile approach did not turn over the practices only within the OP Financial Group. The partners of the Group also got their share of the change.

Nordic Morning operates as OP Financial Group’s marketing partner in different business areas in several fields of responsibility. The new, agile approach has enabled Nordic Morning to work more closely as part of the team of the OP Financial Group.

Somebody Takes Action ›› We Take Action

To summarise the right mindset: sometimes you win, sometimes it is time to learn a lesson.

The agile partnership requires adaptability of both parties. As in a sound marriage, communication and openness are the main ingredients in the partnership between OP Financial Group and Nordic Morning.

The exceptionally open communication increases the team’s sense of security: everyone is free to come up with new ideas, and there is no need to be afraid of making mistakes. Successes are openly celebrated, and everyone shares a desire to succeed, progress and proceed.

The team always wins or loses together, not as individuals. Easier said than done, and there still remains work to do. Especially as also losing has to be learned together. In difficult situations the old roles and partnership patterns easily re-emerge.

Agile Partnership

An effective dialogue is what counts, not bragging about your own accomplishments. The era of lone stars and self-sufficiency is over.

In the traditional operating model, first the customer briefs and sets up a list of tasks, whereas the agile approach is to invite the partner along right from the start and to contemplate goals together.

No more struggling with the to-do list alone and isolated for weeks on end, and, instead of extensive monthly meetings, the team members communicate whenever necessary, even on a daily basis.

The teams themselves have the power to determine how the work is done and how the goals are achieved. It is no longer expected that someone somewhere else will take care of things. Instead, it is the team together that makes things to happen.

For Nordic Morning, the agile approach has provided a unique opportunity to work as part of the customer’s team. At its best, the cooperation between partners is so intense that different parties forget about business boundaries and simply work together as colleagues. Together for a common goal.

5 Tips to Succeed
  1. Be brave. Be bold to challenge old practices.
  2. By constructing frames and processes you help people to adapt to a new phase. Focus on effectiveness and relevance.
  3. Engage people. It is beneficial to invite everybody – partners included – to get involved in brainstorming at an early stage.
  4. Allow teams for space, responsibility and ownership of their work.
  5. Be open and flexible. Accept feedback, take heed of mistakes and achievements. Readjust practices if necessary.
To Work is to Learn

Thanks to the new approach, the teams have found an access to a huge amount of hidden potential.

In the teams, the skills, responsibilities and people meet daily, and the agile approach makes it possible for the business and marketing to truly collaborate.

As professionals from different fields of expertise work together, they face challenges in a completely new way. As a member of the team, you get to see things beyond your own competence, and the expertise of the teams has risen considerably.

In a changing environment you constantly need to find new technologies and skills. You do not have to master everything at once, though, since there is the entire team’s expertise and support available for you.

Agile progress

Any change requires some pressure in order to take place. If things are delayed, they do not actualize.

The fast pace of OP Financial Group’s change was due to a strong determination: since the new approach provides so many benefits, it is worthwhile to pursue them promptly.

Many issues have been struggled with. On the other hand, the fast transition to the new approach has highlighted the problems that require quick response.

The partnership between OP Financial Group and Nordic Morning has deepened, and with less than a year of experience, it is already difficult to image a return to the past. The results have improved, the resources are better used, and the new teams are truly on the same page.

The goals of the reform were to improve both employee and customer experience as well as to increase operational efficiency. Not to mention being the leading and the most attractive financial group in Finland.

The results are visible already.

(Originally published in Markkinointikollektiivi 29/10/2019)

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