02 JanExternal Impact. The Benchmark for Operations professionals.

Welcome back. Happy New Year and here’s to a really upbeat 2013. For the banks, 2012 was perhaps best captured by the word of the year “omnishambles”, which our American cousins would translate to FUBAR. Bankers slipped on every available banana skin. In 2013, things have got to get better

One of those leading the charge is the very able Stephen Hester, the CEO of RBS. The Daily Telegraph recently reported (Link) on the latest steps being taken to re-balance the culture at RBS. The aim is to have the whole bank focus “obsessively” on “the external impact of everything they do in order to avoid repeating past mistakes.” This is the first step in a major programme that RBS will roll-out in 2013.

That first step inspired me; “external impact”. That is a simple way of capturing what Ops folk, and for that matter, anybody in the infrastructure side of the business, must have at the forefront of their minds when dealing with the daily grind. Inspiring, because just before the holiday, there was a lot of rather lurid detail in the press about how numerous folks at UBS were discussing via e-mail the incorrect LIBOR submissions. Those exchanges suggested that a “moral compass” was either absent or faulty. “Doing what the front-office want” is the wrong benchmark. Mr. Hester has come up with a simple rallying cry “external impact”.

Lessons Learned: Moving huge institutions requires the simple and effective. I hope this works for RBS. There is some history; in days at CS, Hester came up with his “SMART objectives” idea; simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based. That became rather pervasive.

And there’s one more thing …

The Book. I have started discussions with a well known publishing house about a book based on these notes. The working title is “The Bankers’ Plumber’s Handbook.” This is a big undertaking, so I would ask you to do three things for me:

  1. Feedback: is this a good idea? Please put a comment on the website.
  2. Favourite Lesson: if you were offering advice to young Operations professionals, is there one subject you would stand on your soap box on? If there is, would you share it with me, via E-Mail, and if you have a story to illustrate it, please share it.
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Thank you for each and every bit of feedback. If I am wide of the mark and not offering anything of use, please comment or make contact directly via E-Mail

 

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