Every month, Breanne Etherington and her colleagues get together to see what customers are saying about the Bank's latest innovations.
On one recent call, it was clear some customers weren't happy.
Etherington is a Product Owner for the Servicing Platform at TD, and her team is responsible for updates to the TD MySpend mobile app – a real-time money management app that acts as a companion to the TD app. While Etherington's team is always eager to see when customers are enjoying the TD MySpend app, in one recent meeting, it was a pattern of negative comments that caught their collective eye.
Users were complaining about the way the app's notifications would display on smartphones. Though a recent update had been tested, the Android app appeared to be blocking key information from displaying properly. Users weren't happy, and many of the comments were decidedly negative.
When something goes wrong with a piece of technology inside any large organization like TD, it's not uncommon for managers and developers to need input from multiple teams and stakeholders – including legal, compliance, finance, quality control and others – to solve a particular challenge. Getting everyone on the same page quickly isn't always easy.
In other words, sometimes even simple tasks can take longer to solve.
But thanks to a new operating model developed at TD referred to as "Next Evolution of Work" – or NEW – Etherington's team includes specialists from developers and designers to risk experts, quality assurance gurus and others; in short, everyone needed to solve the problem is already on the same team.
Because of this new setup, and her team being empowered to move quickly, a patch for the app was released in a fraction of the time it would have taken under previous setups. A challenge that previously would normally have taken months was solved and implemented in a quarter of the time.
"Thanks to the empowerment and the flexibility that the team has, we have all the right resources, and we can reprioritize as needed … in the past we would not have been able to react so quickly," Etherington said.
Similar stories to Etherington's are playing out across TD. The transition to NEW marks a new dawn for the Bank, carving out a new and innovative path that can lead to new experiences for customers and colleagues alike.
Welcome to NEW - the Next Evolution of Work
So why NEW and why now? According to Michael Rhodes, Group Head, Canadian Personal Banking, NEW is all about enabling TD colleagues to respond to the rising challenges and evolving expectations of the marketplace today, while helping to set the organization on the right path for tomorrow.
"The Next Evolution of Work is how we are working to future-proof our operating model to improve what work gets done and how it gets done," Rhodes said.
"We're not doing this to fix something that's broken; we're implementing NEW because the world around us is changing, and we believe that change provides opportunities for growth. When we ran just a few large projects, we supported strong delivery through an explicit operating model – one that involved specific organization structures, processes, and routines.
"Now that the pace of change has increased, we need a new way. That's what NEW is all about – we believe the speed of execution and the quality of our output depends on our working methods – hence the name of our program is the Next Evolution of Work."
Still, it's not every day that a 167-year-old organization opts to dramatically rethink the way many of its colleagues work on a day-to-day basis.
Simply put, NEW is about helping to clear the way for colleagues to be able to do more and, do it faster.
It represents a fresh approach to operating models that TD is scaling across the Bank, in order to enable the organization to simplify its process to deliver better outcomes on a shorter timeline for customers and colleagues. It's one of the single biggest transformations ever undertaken at TD.
"For any organization looking to not just adapt, but lead, in a world where established norms and practices are evolving at an accelerated pace, change is a necessity," Rhodes said.
"NEW is all about anticipating change and then building the necessary capacity and flexibility to use that change to power growth. We're not just embracing change, we're harnessing it to rethink how we do business."
For Rhodes, the secret sauce that is helping NEW thrive within TD is the marriage of a fresh approach to work that complements the Bank being "customer obsessed".
"Unfortunately, many organizations have strayed so far into the realm of consensus-driven decision making – fighting over budgets and territory, holding endless meetings and make-work projects – and the result is they simply can't get things done," he said.
"So, we looked to those organizations from Asia, Europe and Silicon Valley who have truly embraced innovation and elements of Agile project management, to see what made them successful. Our goal was to bring those best practices to TD and marry them with our relentless focus on the customer, to build a different kind of bank. And that's exactly what we're doing."
Moving to 'market speed'
The working world was permanently changed because of the pandemic, but many large businesses still operate like it’s 2019 – or 2009.
Meetings about meetings, endless review processes, months to reach even basic budgetary decisions, perfunctory employee development and training programs, siloed business units and a lack of empowered decision-makers with clear accountability – these are still the millstones tied around the necks of many large enterprises today, according to Rhodes.
Banks like TD have not been immune. This slower, often inefficient approach to getting work done is known in some circles as “bank speed.”
The building blocks for NEW pre-date the pandemic, but when so much of the world ground to a halt in early 2020, the reality of the situation reaffirmed all the reasons the Bank was investing in NEW. TD was well positioned to weather the storm, having already laid out a path that enabled rapid innovation, the ability to respond to shifting customer expectations, and a strategy targeted at creating new digital experiences.
And that work continues. Thanks to NEW, anticipated outcomes for the Bank include becoming faster, more efficient, and able to deliver new products and services from concept to delivery at "market speed" rather than "bank speed."
Under the NEW approach, teams come together to share knowledge, agree on a path ahead, and figure out how to deliver the end result. Securing input from individual partners with everyone being involved throughout the process, this ensures that knowledge, context, and necessary input isn't lost.
This also means that NEW teams are empowered to own the product they're working on. With risk and control partners at the table throughout design, development and delivery, teams can test and learn safely as they're building solutions, validating what works best for our customers and adapting along the way.
In practical terms, what this looks like is teams like Etherington's, where people from different parts of the Bank are brought together to collaborate on small teams with clear mandates.
"One of our greatest opportunities is to take the foundation we have at TD – including our huge customer base, our trusted brand, and our proven business model – and then learn from our non-traditional competitors as we look to evolve our ways of working," said Christine Morris, Senior Executive Vice President of Transformation, Enablement and Customer Experience at TD.
As part of the NEW transition, TD is doubling down on efforts to create enterprise-wide platforms to use the scale of the Bank to improve efficiency, move away from building one-off solutions towards a model where something is built once, used frequently across TD and evolved and improved on an ongoing basis.
Leveraging agile ways of working for specific projects and pilots over the last few years, the broader enterprise transformation began in earnest in early 2021 when TD began introducing NEW processes, team designs and collaboration methods across the organization to help colleagues achieve better outcomes and meet customer needs.
Building on and accelerating work that was already underway at the Bank, one of the first groups to join NEW was the Homeowners' Journey, which was initially formed in 2017. This end-to-end customer journey focuses on what customers need from the moment they start saving for a home to helping them feel confident through the homebuying and refinancing process. The Homeowners' Journey is one of many customer journeys within NEW, designed to help teams stay focused on customer needs like saving and investing, payments and rewards, and borrowing.
How NEW can help TD win the war for talent
Integrating NEW methods throughout TD isn't only about delivering new services or products on shorter timelines for customers. It's also about creating a work environment where colleagues feel empowered to do their best work, and where they can see the results of their efforts realized quickly.
This is especially important at a time when many TD colleagues are returning to the office or working in hybrid environments since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Indeed, many organizations are in a competition to attract and retain top talent. They are looking for ways to show their employees that the work they do matters, and that they can work in an environment where things move quickly and effectively while still meeting the risk requirements of a heavily regulated industry such as banking.
The benefits to colleagues are significant in NEW: clarity about what’s truly important, pride in ownership of a deliverable and the value it carries for the enterprise, and data-driven transparency about where bottlenecks are occurring and how to remove them.
For many colleagues, the pandemic changed the way they work, and they're not interested in going back to how things were in February of 2020. NEW enables teams to adopt more Agile principles, while creating new opportunities for individuals to drive impactful outcomes and advance their professional skills.
"The best way to retain top talent is to make their work impactful and meaningful," Morris said. "That's where NEW comes in."
Both current colleagues and potential hires recognize quickly that this agile approach enables them to work on innovative products and services, so that they can see the results of their hard work delivering value to customers faster than ever. It also creates new opportunities for colleagues to upskill, learn continuously, and achieve their full potential, with ongoing professional development and training opportunities. In fact, an internal colleague survey of NEW team members following a virtual team conference showed that 95% of respondents felt excited to be part of the NEW initiative.
"NEW enables us to find more time to serve our customers – finding new ways to unlock and improve our everyday interactions with them," Morris said.
How NEW is already changing TD
By the end of the transformation, TD expects that thousands of the Bank's employees will wind up working in NEW structures. But even those colleagues who aren't directly working within a NEW framework will benefit from the improved working arrangements, and the better solutions TD is able to deliver for its customers.
Already, the results are starting to make themselves evident. Recently, a team within NEW's Everyday Advice Journey that focuses on New to Canada customer needs was able to offer an unsecured credit card with a credit limit up to $1,000 for international students. With all required partners at the table from development to delivery, the team obtained approval to enhance credit policy for International students in a fraction of the time it would have taken previously, while accomplishing complex, time-absorbing technology builds in parallel. This effort supported almost 5,000 international students within five months, meeting their credit needs and helping them settle in Canada. This is exactly the type of value Rhodes and the senior leadership at TD hope to continue to see.
"NEW is enabling everyday impact and benefit for our customers – in many cases, to those who need it most," Rhodes said. "We're looking forward to what the future has in store and unlocking value for all TD customers – whoever, wherever, and whenever they need us."