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Digital processing 14 Feb 2019

Agile coaches, key drivers of BBVA’s organizational change

BBVA’s new ‘agile coaches’ gathered to celebrate the first ‘Global Agile Coach Space’ (GACS), an event which offered them the chance to share their experiences and insights into how to support the bank’s teams in this global transformation process.

Last year, as part of its ongoing process to become an agile organization, BBVA created the ‘agile coach’ role. Some 260 people have already been appointed to perform this new role within the Group. These new agile coaches are responsible for supporting BBVA’s agile teams and helping them of implementing this new work methodology in their everyday routine, as well as influencing the ‘agile’ transformation of BBVA’s leadership model.

“Over the last year we realized that it was critical to create the ‘agile coach’ role and to deploy it in all areas and geographies,” explained Ricardo Forcano, Global Head of Engineering & Organization at BBVA, during BBVA’s first ‘Global Agile Coach Space’ event. The event was attended by agile coaches’ from 10 different countries, who shared their insights and lessons learnt during this time, and contributed to define a global vision to face the challenges they take on in their new role as drivers of change. “The 260 of you who are already working as agile coaches are the living proof of how we are escalating the agile transformation to the whole Group. An escalation that has become a key strategic line for BBVA,” said the executive.

Forcano noted how BBVA has gone from having some 4,000 people working on ‘agile’ last year to incorporate this methodology into the day to day work of more than 30,000 people working in the bank’s core areas across the Group’s footprint. With this progress, said Forcano, BBVA is now completing the first phase of its ‘agile’ transformation, which entails redefining the bank’s organizational model. For the new, far-reaching stage that now begins, BBVA’s executive stressed that beyond the specific tools and methodologies that are already being implemented by the teams, it will be important to focus on people and the transformation of the leadership model.

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Ricardo Forcano, Global Head of Engineering & Organization, during the event 'Global Agile Coach Space'.

Flexibility and Prioritization

Carlos Casas, Global Head of Talent & Culture at BBVA, also stressed the importance of driving people to embrace this cultural change. Casas also had the chance to speak with the ‘coaches’ during the event, offering them some advice and solving some of their doubts. “The key to the transformation does not lie in ceremonies and methodologies, but in becoming a more liquid organization that is actually capable to ask itself frequently what it has to do,” he explained.

For this, he said, we need to incorporate flexibility into the way the company acts, and we need to “change the way we behave from top to bottom”. “A truly agile organization must have the courage and the mechanisms to redirect priorities and resources when necessary; and be capable of working in a much more multidisciplinary way. And this what you all enable with your work,” he added.

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Carlos Casas, Global Head of Talent & Culture, during the event in Madrid.

The more than 200 ‘coaches’ who gathered at the event had the opportunity to share with the executives some of the questions they face and need to answer everyday day in their new capacity. “You are brave,” said Forcano, who added that they should be “proud” of the tremendous progress achieved over the course of the past year, for enabling BBVA’s quantum leap in its transformation process.

Sharing knowledge and experiences

One of the goals of the event was to build a “common vision and objectives” to guide coaches when materializing the change in all the geographies. Another one was to allow participants to share insights and best practices that might be reused in other countries. For this purpose, three employees took the floor to deliver one presentation each on different practical aspects of the methodology. The three speakers were chosen by vote from the 260 coaches prior to the event.

The first speaker was Ana Díaz, of the ‘agile’ Discipline Spain. Her presentation focused on the ‘Obeya Room’ concept. As she explained, an Obeya Room is an instrument that allows visualizing in a physical space the management of ‘agile’ projects. Specifically, she explained how this tool is being used to help BBVA’s board committees visualize the Group’s objectives and strategies in an agile and flexible manner.

From Mexico, Alejandro López explained how to boost synchronization between disciplines with development and operations teams from different areas using the ‘agile’ methodology. And finally, Melanie Maddox, from the BBVA’s U.S. team explained how they are combining ‘agile’ and ‘design thinking‘ tools to manage projects focusing on user needs.

“We’ve chosen this path to follow, and now what we have to do is to tread along it one step at a time, true to the ‘agile’ spirit, testing and learning on an ongoing basis to keep moving forward,” concluded Ricardo Forcano.

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Ana Díaz, during the event at BBVA's headquarters in Madrid.

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