Agile governance and portfolio management in the Financial Service industry


The subsidiary of an international bank had launched an innovation initiative to enable idea generation for the digital age

  • This initiative was very successful and resulted in a multitude of different projects
  • Too much work was in the system resulting in:
    Lack of transparency of all the projects simultaneously launched and worked on, a lot of duplicate work, too few finished projects, a general sense among employees of being overburdened and at their limit
  • Also, there was not enough alignment among members of the Board of Managing Directors regarding the value-add of the digital initiatives, since almost 100% of the current business was generated by traditional value streams. A clear strategic view on what and how digital initiatives contribute long-term to company success was missing
  • Ultimately, a new governance and steering structure needed to be found for gaining speed and quality in decision-making

Our Approach

After two meetings with the board, it turned out that the issues lay deeper and were more complex than everybody had expected

  • We set up monthly 4-hour workshops with the entire board to discuss and decide on more agile approaches to: Strategy development and alignment, creating transparency and estimating the work involved in different initiatives, portfolio steering and decision-making
  • We worked with representatives on the divisional level and set up pilots for different approaches to test their feasibility and acceptance in a digital innovation environment
  • We enabled employees vertically in these pilots to work in more agile ways to get comparable results
  • We aggregated the findings and discussed those in the board workshops to adjust approaches
  • We agreed on new processes and ways of decision-making on board level to be reviewd on a yearly basis


  • A new governance and steering process for innovation and digital projects was set up, enabling better and faster portfolio management
  • Innovation accounting KPIs were adopted resulting in quicker and more substantive pivoting / start /stop decisions
  • Transparency over the entire portfolio was established for the entire organization, paired with a stringent entry process for new innovation projects
  • C-level and C-1 level were enabled for the newly developed language, processes and steering models

Lessons learned

  • Balancing “new” and “old” business portfolios in a risk-assessed way without cutting off innovation (ambidexterity) is a challenging task
  • New ways of working take time to be explained, understood, tweaked and adopted—also for C-level
  • Not taking the time and cutting short discussion will result in failure
  • Data-driven decision making is not always loved
You need help? Contact us!