The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Michelle Walter 'The evolution of design maturity within ANZ Bank'

John Carter
June 1, 2022
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Michelle Walter 'The evolution of design maturity within ANZ Bank'

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Episode shownotes

Hello and welcome to Bringing Design Closer. Our goal is to have conversations that inspire and to help move the dial forward for organisations to become more human-centred in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

This is HCD is almost 5-years old and we just passed 200 episodes on Apple Podcasts. We’ve been creating content regularly for that period of time, and if you want to help us out - please leave a review for us wherever you are listening. Those lovely algorithms love reviews, as it helps us grow our community - every little helps. Even if you don’t review, you can go one better by telling people you work with about the podcast.

In this episode I speak with Michelle Walter, Head of Design Ops at ANZ bank in Australia. I’ve been connecting with Michelle for a number of months about all things strategic design. ANZ were my bank of choice in Australia, not out of a deep loyalty or anything - they weren’t the most innovative of banks for a very long time, but in September 2017 they made a big ballsy statement I felt. They hired Opher Yom Tov, a Chief Design Officer for the bank and also other key hires include the brilliant, Michelle Walter.

In this episode we speak about length around the growth of design internally, what worked, what didn’t and how to take the business on the journey. They currently sit at 200+ designers. How do they hire? Is it purely a skills acquisition or are they hiring for purpose?

This episode is a peek behind the curtain of an organisation who went from a Stage 2 in the design maturity ladder where design was used as styling all the way through to where now, according to Michelle, it’s used to inform strategy - stage 4.

Michelle is truly awesome and I know you will love them - let’s get into it...

Episode Transcript

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S1: Hello and welcome to Bringing Design Closer. Our goal is to have conversations that inspire and help move the ball forward for organizations to become more human centered in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems. Can you believe it? But this society is five years old. We just passed 200 episodes on Apple Podcasts and we've been creating content regularly for that period of time. And if you want to help us out, there's two things you can do. One, you can leave a review for us on any of those platforms that you're listening to, such as Spotify or Google or Apple. And even if you don't want to leave a review, that's totally cool. You can go one better by telling people that you work with or, you know, might listen to podcasts that might like the show helped spread the word. In this episode, I speak with Michelle Walter, head of Design Ops at ANZ Bank in Australia. I've been connected with Michelle for a number of months about all things strategic design in ANZ and ANZ, where my bank of choice in Australia. I don't have a deep loyalty or anything like that. They weren't the most innovative banks for a very long time, but in September 2017 they made a really big, bold statement, I felt, and they hired over Young off as a chief design officer for the bank and also Michelle Walter, as well as the head of design ops. In this episode we speak about length around the growth of design internally at ANZ, what worked for them, what didn't work for them, and how to take the business on that journey as well. They currently sit at over 200 plus designers, so how do they hire for those 200? Is it purely a skills acquisition that they're looking for or are they hiring for purpose? This episode is a really good peek behind the curtain of an organisation that went from, say, a stage to in the design maturity ladder where designers use the style and styling all the way through to where they are now, according to Michelle. It's used to inform strategy. So stage four. Michelle is truly awesome and I know you're going to love them. So let's jump straight into it. Well, well, well. Michelle Walter, I am delighted to welcome you to bring in design closer for our listeners. Maybe you start off, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.


S2: Thanks, Gerri. Thanks for having me. So a little bit about me. So I am from Melbourne in Australia. I was born here and I've lived basically most of my life. I have spent the last seven or so years working at ANZ Bank with one of the largest financial institutions here in Australia. We one of the big four, as they call it. We also have one of the largest inhouse design communities from last count. We have 210 designers and when I say the word designers, all different disciplines of design. So we have.


S1: Nice.


S2: Yeah.


S1: Yeah, I know that there's, there's lots of stuff we can talk about based on the, the amount of designers that you have there at the moment. But maybe tell me, what's your role in ANZ?


S2: So my role is head of design operations. So my my role and my team are very much in support of enabling our designers to do their best work. Being a creative inside a large, complex organisation has its challenges when a lot of our designers just want to get in there and do great work. Yeah. So a lot of what we do in design ops is remove roadblocks. We put in processes and practices. But really one of the things that we focus on is building a culture of design, fostering creative, creative community, and we also focus on upskilling our designers and supporting them in their growth and development.


S1: Right. So there's a story that I'm going to come back to in a little bit more about ANZ and my kind of understanding of ANZ. When you say culture of design, what does that look like in your eyes?


S2: Yep. So a culture is one where I think creatives are open to sharing. There is so much goodness and knowledge and expertise within within our design community. And I guess for me it's really thinking about sharing that more broadly so others can learn and grow themselves. It's also about collaboration, not just with our designers, but how designers work with the rest of the business to really create impact in what they do. Yeah, so they're probably the main things that I think about when we think about culture. And also I guess design is not just limited to just designers. We have different stakeholders across our business that actually understand the value of design. So we're not sort of sitting in this quiet or under the basement somewhere in our building doing what we do. We kind of share the love and the knowledge and expertise with literally. To the business.


S1: So just on Mars, it's very easy for us to build a design culture with 210 designers when they're all in one corner of the building, effectively design culture when it permeates the rest of the organization. I'm interested to know what are the kind of things that you've come up against when suddenly over the last eight years is this maybe that's being more probably since Opie on Tough arrived in that CDO position. What are the challenges from the organization around justifying 210 designers?


S2: So I'd say the challenge or the opportunity for design is really around changing the mindset from being very much a culture of deliver, deliver, deliver, yes. Then being very product oriented where decisions are being made by product managers and I guess senior managers and kind of flipping that on its head to saying, Well, what do our customers want and thinking? Really thinking about user needs. So it's a it's definitely a mindset shift and to be honest, also a cultural shift where we've had a lot of people work in the organization. They're really smart people who've worked there for a really long time. And for no fault of their own there, they're used to kind of their way of working to bring something like a design process into that, which I guess, you know, in some people's eyes can take longer or have have more steps or, you know, spending more time with customers. You know, of course, there are challenges with that, but there are some really great areas of the business that have embraced design and really embraced, you know, human centered design, I guess, as a methodology and had some really great successes.


S1: But I guess I'm an ex customer of ANZ like. So when I was in Australia from 2003 to 2018, I was as an ANZ customer, have the mortgage that everything like you know, I was, I was all in with ANZ which annoyed some of my other clients when I was working at CBA as like, I'm alright with ANZ, that's fine. But the systems that were in there when I first signed up in 2003 were exactly the same systems that when I left in 2018 in Australia. So I can imagine that there's people there that have been just used to these systems that are probably still probably in place or maybe at the point of kind of being sunset. What kind of things did you do or are you doing for people that have been in the organisation a very long time, who may see, as you said, design as being an additional layer of complexity?


S2: Yeah.


S1: Are there other trainings? I'm I'm kind of interested in that piece. Like, you know, like how do you bring them along the journey?


S2: Yeah, it's a great question, and I think you're absolutely right. So there's legacy systems and a ton of complexity still. But the good news is that there are again some really smart people in the organisation and leadership that are really trying to to change that. And there's great new product offerings and there absolutely. So many teams are really trying to fix the plumbing. So that's the good news. But in terms of I guess, thinking about teams adopting design, I would say that our approach has been working with them and not sort of talking at them. So one of the things that we do is we've started to run HDD masterclasses, so it's quite common in sort of large organisations, but it's not your traditional masterclass. Yeah, half day sessions, it's much smaller. So the smaller teams that come in and they're highly engaging and highly collaborative and they're really generative. So it's not like you have a bunch of designers who will talk at you for 4 hours, give you a whole bunch of tools. And as, as a team, we kind of cross our fingers and hope for the best that we think we really we really invest the time in the masterclasses and follow up sessions. So in project coaching, we do a lot of again really taking that kind of people first philosophy and put that, putting that into practice. So no one likes, no one likes being told, you have to do this and you have to admit design. But I would say that our philosophy is really a bit of a slow burn, and I give them a little bit. They can come to a masterclass, maybe they can walk out, you know, knowing a little bit more about prototyping, and they might try prototyping on their project. And then we find that, you know, it's it's incremental and then it sort of. Yeah. And she's out of it more and permeates out to teams and more interest rather than this kind of push, push, I guess, attitude with football becoming the big army. Teach everyone design. And again, you still cross your fingers and hope for the best. So I guess it's sort of smaller teams, more intimate interactions. Yeah. And that sort of slow burn by, you know, trying one of the safer ones.


S1: So what does the team structure like? What, what are the team structures look like should I say within a typical project that I ANZ and how does that differ to other places that you might have seen or might have experienced?


S2: Yeah, so it depends on the project, but some of our more, I guess more, more business type projects would have, you know, I believe sponsor hopefully. It's always.


S1: Helpful.


S2: I've got, I have a, a product owner or a business analyst like quite traditional. So people that would come very much from the business with a business mindset, with a focus on delivery. So they even might come with a whole lot of ideas, which is great. They might even come with some solutions that they kind of just want to implement and again, that delivery mindset and get out the door. But I guess what we try and do is, is really understand the problem that they're trying to solve, really take the time to understand those stakeholders. So yeah, they want in a squad. So ANZ part of our business is set up in a the Spotify model, so we might have a squad that we'll work with. So really sort of understanding the different roles in there and and understand how they want to work best. And I think, I think what's important when, when I guess we, we try and bring HDD in is we really try and understand what part of the the project plan there and the the ideal is we get bought in at the start of a project, but it doesn't always work that way. So what we need to do and yeah. Is to understand kind of where they're at and I guess meet them with Iraq.


S1: Okay. So in terms of I know it's a it's how long's a piece of string or, you know, each project is different, but is there are there disciplines of research or disciplines of service design or disciplines of user experience? Is that the hub and spoke model that you were referring to? Like, do we have a central team of experts that drop into certain projects? Would it be would you have to tell us what that looks like from a from a from a day to day perspective?


S2: So we're not really set up in that way. So a lot of our designers are embedded in cross-functional squads. Okay. But we do have a smaller pool of designers that are mostly strategic or service designers that would get pulled into to certain projects that are that are high priority or on a on a senior executives scorecard. And they need you know, they need designers really to work with them, particularly in the front end of a project. But most of our designers are embedded in squads, so in different product teams or service teams spread right across the organization. So we're very much set up as a distributed design community at the moment to where in Australia and New Zealand and India. Yeah, and that and we've been running that way for about three, almost four years now. And prior to that we were, we were set up very much as a kind of in-house, in-house design.


S1: Agency.


S2: Yeah, yeah. Which very much worked in that way where a project would come in and we'd kind of pick and choose from this sort of centralized design team, and we'd, we'd send them off on an assignments or on a project, and then they kind of return to home base, you know, anywhere from 6 to 12 months of pros and cons of both models.


S1: Absolutely. Yeah. It sounds like you're you're pretty far up the design maturity ladder if you're using design as a strategic tool if you want. So how are you using the research that's been basically explored? How does that inform the new batch or the new strategic pieces that are going to come into into play?


S2: Yeah, that's a great question. Again, it depends on where the the product development is or the kind of project plan. But what we what we try and do very much on the front end is if there is a project and they require. Research at the start. We kind of swarm to that and make sure that, you know, we're iterative on on how we run research that we bought at the start and throughout the throughout the project and just feeding those insights as best we can, mindful that many projects try and run quite fast. So it's it can be a challenge for some of our designers and also different stakeholders along the way have, you know, different, I guess different takeaways from the research as well because the customer might be saying one thing and then it's their point of view as well, and they're the product manager. So there's that tension as well. So stakeholder management is actually one of the most important skills that we can we can teach and support our designers on because their even though they might be in a squad or they might be in for a certain phase of a project, making sure that that kind of stakeholder management piece and everyone's kind of happy and yeah, is really important.


S1: One of the common problems that I see from speaking to lots of organisations is the glass ceiling for design is is usually pretty low in the organisation hierarchy and designers don't see anywhere where they can go. But I remember they correct me if I'm wrong. Okay. I'm trying to remember back over your office hiring and the CTO created quite a ripples and I was working in government at the time as like what about ANZ. They hold my mortgage, they're, they've hired a CTO, they take design seriously, that must be good. And I was at that time I was a little bit cynical. I was like, okay, clown, this lasts, okay? And I wanted to see where it was going to go because I remember I used to do work with CBA. The career growth for a designer tends to move out of design and into the business function. What does a career trajectory look like for an ANZ designer at the moment?


S2: Well, the good news, as you just mentioned, is that.


S1: You still there.


S2: Still there. Welfare is still there. He's my boss and I'm really grateful that I get to work with someone like him and and that's to work with someone and for an organisation also where design has a seat at the table. We talk about it all the time.


S1: All the time.


S2: And it's a really powerful recruitment tool, I have to say. Yeah, and really an engagement tool. And when we think about retention, affair is very present without design community and I guess he he has a pretty strong kind of, I guess mindset where even if you're a CTO, you do not take your kind of I or hands off the tools. You're still, you're still a designer. And, you know, I think that really resonates. So he's kind of with the people, for the people, which is really great. And, you know, I think that what he has shown to our designers is that over your career, you can you can reach this level. And there are organizations that are, you know, open and willing to put design, you know, an executive of design, which is which is just just a great story. But to your point around career progression, so you can come in as a grant. We have a great graduate program. We haven't had many designers like coming out of pure design school in the last few years, coming into that program, but will be taking grads next year, which is great. Do you have an.


S1: Affiliation with the Uni? Sorry. Do you. Do you have an affiliation with a specific university in Australia?


S2: No, but there's just not specific. But there's a few sort of well-known ones. RMIT, Armidale, Monash have a really great. Swinburne have a really great.


S1: Just Melbourne based universities. What about the ones up in New South Wales?


S2: Yes, it's okay.


S1: There you.


S2: Go. But look, this is actually also some really great independent institutions as well, like General Assembly do a really great job academy. I also do a really great job to help designers getting get into industry so they do a great job and then you sort of work graduate and then I wouldn't say we have a really strong sort of junior level of design designer. We don't even call them genius. You just become a designer. And that really depends on the breadth and the depth of the skills and your experience and really your attitude. I would say we have a lot of kind of few years out of school or maybe they've only had a few years work experience and that's unbelievable. Like, they're just incredible. So we really, really foster that and really support support them on on their growth in that space. And then it goes quite traditional from that, to be honest, it sort of senior, then you become a lead.


S1: And so forth you go through. So one of the questions I had and it seems from speaking to lots of the designers and ANZ, from just having conversations with you guys over the last couple of months and you all know who you are and this sounds a bit too deep, but you're very you know what this is about. Okay. There's no there's no deviation. So people are they stand alone as strong individuals. So how do you hire for this? Because it didn't seem that that's been left to chance. And if so, if there's a recipe that you want to try and share with us, how do you make sure when you're hiring people that it's actually improving the culture because it's such such an important thing? At 210 people, little averages. You're going to have a couple of people in there that might fit the mold. And also, I want to talk a little bit more about agitators and after this question. So just maybe start off with tell us like, how do you hire and what what are you looking for?


S2: Okay, so I'll probably go back one step. When I started at ANZ, we had no process to hire. We had 11 designers.


S1: That's when they reached out to me.


S2: Yes, we had 11 designers, really small team and no process was the interview guide. Where's our recruitment partner? Surely we have one at ANZ. Lots of questions. So I'm really curious and I never worked in a large organisation, so I asked a couple of peers at the time, where's all this stuff that we need? And to be honest, we built a lot of our, a lot of our frameworks, we created the process and even even like six or seven years ago, design ops as a function really leading into the recruitment process that was the priority. Build the team, find the right people. We want diversity of thought really back then. We want designers from all different backgrounds. We spent a lot of time in kind of the set up of of recruiting the designers. And then we saw this great opportunity because when they landed, they're like, they sold the dream. And we've got all these great people in and the onboarding experience is rubbish. They don't even know how to turn on their MacBook, they can't connect to the network. And then again, we saw this opportunity to create a really great onboarding experience. So we spent time, so we spent time with them thinking about what a great recruitment experience would look like, finding the right partners, finding the right people to run the interviews. We didn't even know how to do that. And right through to how do we make them productive from day one and how do we give them a really great experience for their first 6 to 12 with 6 to 12 weeks, however long they they needed us all. And that took time. A lot of like dark bags under our eyes. But I would have to say that kind of the key is putting. Systems and a process and kind of simple artifacts in place to really get that engine going, really paid off. And as part of that, we were supporting hiring managers who weren't from design. So that meant that instead of again, if I went back, we had hiring managers, just hiring any designers that were like, Well, I need a designer. A designer would turn up to an interview and sound okay. Like, did you see their portfolio? They're like, What's a portfolio? Like, Oh, right. Okay. So yeah, really, really. I guess supporting our team and then supporting the business that were hiring designers outside of our team was really important. And we when I say support it was from writing job ads right through to that onboarding experience. So and we still do that today. So it means that we hire the right designer most of the time. Boston Yeah, yeah. Right for the right role. So fit is really important, like right discipline, right work. Right. And we really make sure that fit is right and then we look for cultural fit. For me, it's just kind of a bit of a lot of interviews in my time. I can probably tell in the first 10 minutes. It's just a feeling I get. That's that's there's no secret sauce there. So that's me mostly. But I think that one of the if I take myself out of it for a moment. One of the things we look for is, are you clear and intentional about the problems that you've tried to solve, how you solve them? And what have you learned? It's like a really simple recipe that we look for when we interview candidates. If you can tell that story in a really clear way. You're like ten steps in a row.


S1: So I graduates listening to this. That's that's the secret sauce. It's the kind of stuff you get out of this society, folks. Save yourself some time and energy. Yeah.


S2: It's kind of that simple formula. And, you know, I've seen really experienced designers who will talk to us for a half an hour about themselves, talk to us, and, like, you sound great. And then I had an incident recently where I asked someone experienced. I said to this person, Talk me through one of your projects. And like, Oh, but I've prepared five. I don't need to see five. Just show me your favorite one. And they're like, Oh, but it's really hard to choose. I'm like, Just show me what to show everyone and tell me and tell me a really great story. And we kind of got there in the end. But I think that that balance of. If you can tell 1 to 2 stories really well, you don't need to spend hours and hours preparing five. You study all five projects and tell me about the ones that didn't go so well either. Like. Yeah. Tell me about the ones that didn't.


S1: I think that comes with experience, though. One of the things that I, um, coach and people, and especially if they've been in an organization for a long period of time, the whole interview process and hiring process becomes this kind of, I don't know, difficult space to even talk about. And the more conversations you have, the more able and capable you are to talk about your work and what what works and what doesn't work. And you write that first 10 minutes piece. You can just kind of feel at ease, kind of going, okay, well, I know I can ask too many questions. They've kind of done enough to be able to talk like that. Yeah. What advice do you give to people, though, who are new to design that might not have those five projects and they might just have one or two projects from university and they're looking to crack into get a gig at ANZ. How should they approach it?


S2: I. I've done a lot of mentoring the last couple of months, and a lot of the conversations that I've been having are exactly what we're talking about. How do I mean? I don't have a lot of experience, and I guess the advice that I come back to time and time again is be yourself. Don't apply for roles that are senior design roles and come to me and say, Nikki, I don't understand why I didn't get the job. Because they say, now think about go, go to where you should kind of be at and go for those kind of junior, go for an internship. So the first advice I would give is be, yeah, be quite specific and be really clear on the role that you're actually going for. And when it comes to present your work, be yourself and say, I've only got one year experience, but these are the three areas of design that I'm really interested in. And tell me why you want to work for ANZ from what you know, why ANZ not NAB across the road or why don't you want to work for a start up? What? There has to be something that interests you about ANZ and you could say to me or our team. I'm really impressed that you've got a CDO. That's cool. You've done your research. That's great. Or I see your big shoulders there.


S1: Yeah. All right. Well, Michelle Walters or Michelle Yeoh, because they're going.


S2: To work with me, it.


S1: Seems. Yeah, that's always flattery is always a good one.


S2: Absolutely. So, yeah, that's probably the second thing I say. So you'd be yourself. Be authentic. Yeah. Say where you're at. There's no kind of right or wrong. But the third piece of advice that I give is if there are things that you do that relate to design, if you write on medium, if you have your own blog, if you're making an app for a friend of yours that's a florist, put that on there. Any kind of design, any kind of your design work, whatever it is, put that on there. I'm mentoring a guy in Sydney and he's awesome and he's transitioning from being a project manager in architecture to design, and he started to write a medium, which is amazing. He was like, Oh, I was writing about bicycles and the design of bicycles. I'm like, Great, put it up there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And just just kind of simple things like now it's on his portfolio and it's just a lovely read. Yeah.


S1: It's really true to him. It says an awful lot. That's true to him as well, I'm sure. Like his own interests and his own passions. Yeah. And one of the things that I get faced with quite a lot and I want to ask your perspective on this question is somebody who maybe sees and hears about UX and UX as a it's still a relative shiny, bright thing to an awful lot of people and they might do a course in it. But their previous role was a senior graphic designer or senior B.A. or any of these kind of things, and then they go for those jobs as senior UX people. Yep. How what's your thoughts on a role? Where should they enter?


S2: I get a lot of them.


S1: It's a hard one, isn't it?


S2: It's a hard one.


S1: Because they're bringing a lot of other experience to the role they're bringing. Like if they're in a role, they'll understand an awful lot of the agile processes, presumably.


S2: So yeah, I think that I mean, this doesn't happen in every case, but something that we try and focus on is, you know, what are the skills that this person might have at their core and what are the skills required for the role? So if they are similar, there's a nice mesh that I will not want to transition or a lot of the skills that you have are transferable. But I think it also depends on a couple of factors the work, the work to be done, the kind of pace, the velocity of the work, and also the team that this person is in. So sometimes people would ask, oh, you know, I'm going to go for this role that I engage, I'm interested. You know, my background is leading teams and I'm comfortable with that. And that's kind of where I want to continue my career. I might look up the role, you know, I've got the magic powers of the back end. I can understand a little bit about the team and you know, sometimes I'll go back to that person and say, you know, you're not going to be in a people leadership role, so you will be on the tools pumping out assets. So I think just really understanding what the person is after with their skills, is that a match to the role? I mean, as best you can, I think that it could be a really good match. It does put a lot of, I guess, a bit more work on the person who's applying for the role to kind of dig a bit deeper and also for the person doing the interviewing or the hiring manager to really understand what they're hiring for. And those skills that are needed because some are easily transferable and others might not be or might not be aligned from a career and growth perspective as well.


S1: So one of the things that we were we were connecting originally around was the learning and development program at ANZ. Now as a, as a kind of a big thing, we wanted to talk in a bit more and you mentioned about this being an incredible way of hiring people. Tell us a little bit more and the story of the learning and development program and some of these uplifts that we're we're referring to.


S2: Okay. So ANZ have a dedicated learning program for our designers. We started about four years ago. We ran a survey. We ran some interviews with a smaller design community. Then I think we're about 84, 80 to 90 designers. Wow.


S1: So we've grown very quickly.


S2: We've gotten pretty quickly. Remember, we started at like 11. Yeah. So, yeah, we're about 80 or 90 and we ran some research. And one of the things that we asked our designers was around how is ANZ supporting, supporting your growth? And I just remember looking at the results. I think we got like 1.5 out of five. It was really abysmal. And lots of great verbatim, great, but like harsh. And basically there was nothing. It was really confusing. Some of our designers didn't even know that ANZ had some, some pretty solid, you know, growth templates and development plans and, and that kind of thing. And the other, the other be kind of, you know, allergic reaction was to designers weren't having conversations with their managers about their growth and development. So it was a huge sort of opportunity. So we took that insight series of insights and we said we have to do something with this. And we were trying to iterate pretty quickly and at the time, which on reflection is a similar situation to what we're in now, you know, it's a really hot market. And even then, you know, we had a lot of start ups, all building in-house teams and, you know, paying a lot of money. And we just needed something to hang our hat on. So to make designers choose ANZ over, over the kind of start ups or other other companies. Yeah. On a down that.


S1: Was super, super competitive. I want to stress that to anyone else out there. Australia is really hot for designers. We always have.


S2: A really small talent pool. So we thought, is there something in this around this idea of supporting our designers growth and what could that look like? So as many great design projects started off as a very small, brief bit of a side of the desk, could we get this thing happening? And one of the things that we focused on really early on, which we still do today, is focus on skill development. So when we think about capability programs or, you know, uplifting, uplifting mastery, we still come back to this idea of skills. So how can we support our designers to really, really build their skills and grow in those skills and support each other? And, you know, maybe their team's on on the skills that they built. So we started writing. Well, what does that look like as a designer? What are the skills you need? And yeah, we came up with 25 skills. We ran a whole lot of workshops, was run as a very slick design projects. We scoped it, we planned it and ran a whole series of workshops which were really fun, a whole bunch of prototyping. I was I was reflecting the other day someone found some of our original prototypes in one of our cupboards at the office, and they were done on the photocopier. Remember that old thing, the photocopying machine? Yeah, very black and white. And I found this beautiful black string from this stationery shop up the roads. I was hand stringing all these paper prototypes and sending it around to people across the business, to our designers. And that was the way that we tested and learned. So super, super low fidelity. Yeah. We even sent one of those prototypes to. Quite a senior executive. And asked for her feedback. And she loved it. She was like.


S1: What was it? Was it a book or a book?


S2: It was a book. So it ended up being a booklet. Yeah. So a hand strong photocopied booklet. And we kind of played around with this idea of is it a booklet is a digital? And then we kind of went full steam ahead and said, Let's publish a book. So we got this book we published. Well, I'm going to show you a book.


S1: Wow. Nice cover.


S2: And inside the book, you have a description of all of our skills that we feel like our design is should have. And we described each of the levels of those skills. So when you're starting out at a certain skill, what does that look like? And when you're an expert, what does that look like? So again, being really clear and intentional about our expectations of our designs and we kind of packaged roll up into just a small 126 page book that we gave out. It was very ceremonious. And the reason.


S1: Why I love that is I think it's so easy for us to kind of go, well, do a website that way we don't have to print it out and that way then it can update and we don't have to. And then some people might go, and it's better for the environment, too, which we all know is wrong. Listen to Jerry McGowan's podcast on where we get folks. But I mean, the whole fact that there's something that's tactile and have it in your hands and it's there is is meaningful yet it shows that there's something you can you don't have to be online to watch it, it says. And then it's like, you know this there's probably a whole host of other things we can chat about at length around this stuff. But you've got this thing, the learning and development program we mentioned about it being great for hiring people, but how does it affect retaining people? Because it's one thing to throw money at people and throw learning and programs during development programs of people. Has it had an effect on churn? On people churn?


S2: Um, no, I wouldn't I wouldn't say, but it's definitely helped with engagement with our engagements because there's a there's a really interesting I think they run it twice a year now. It's heaps change. I think it's twice a year. There's a bank wide survey. They a bunch they ask a whole bunch of questions around engagement, around inclusion and risk. And one of the questions is I feel like ANZ gives me the opportunity to learn and grow on the job and we are fortunate that we can filter those results. So that goes to 45,000 people and everybody in our system who identifies as a designer or an experienced designer, we can filter our results. We use that those responses as a way to measure the effectiveness of the program. And it's really powerful, again, thinking about measuring success in a way that our business stakeholders and our sponsors would understand. And this survey is a really powerful way to do that. So year on, year for the last year, four years, we've tracked we've tracked those results. And last year and they've gone up every year, which is incredible considering we've had two years of a pandemic. Last year I think we hit 81% and just as a as a really interesting data point, ANZ without the filter for designer. So how ANZ responded to that more broadly, they were at 76%, so the design community were where about on average for ANZ, which is really cool.


S1: And it's pretty, I mean it's a success story. But I've got one little last question if you could squeeze it in. You mentioned about the metrics that the stakeholders are looking for. Can you tell us a little bit more what metrics there other than churn, which we discuss like engagement as well? And are there any other ones that are larger?


S2: Yep. So one of the things that's really important when we think about metrics for this program is every year we write out okay us. But one of the things that we're doing more so in probably the last two years is we're aligning those, okay, as to our strategic scorecard. So what do our senior stakeholders expect or want to achieve for the year when it comes to to building capability? What does that look like? Yeah, and we're also asking our designers, so we kind of think about, well, what are the needs of our design community and how are we going to measure the success, success of the program based on that? And then what does the business need? So a really great example is on the scorecard. It talks about building a building capability in key priority areas, pretty loose statement. And one of the areas is leadership. So this year we said, right. Go for our loading program. How are we going to focus on leadership? How are we going to show that there is a clear alignment between what we're doing and what what the business needs and helping them to kind of deliver on that scorecard. So we had, again, this kind of small idea that's turned into something really big and exciting and at times a bit scary. We've, I guess, spun up a different stream of of our program, which is called Creative Leaders. And part of creative leaders is bringing a small cohort of all different types of design leaders. So you could be at different stages of your career. You could be a current leader, an aspiring leader, a people leader, a craft leader. And we've brought a small cohort together for a 24 week program. So really intensive program where we're focusing on really, really uplifting their capability and their understanding of what an impactful design leader means at ANZ. So that's something we knew that something new we're doing this year. And then we've got the other other kind of skills that we're doing as the other also. But yeah, we're really focusing on that kind of creative leaders stream. We've never done it before, and so it's really exciting. But it's a long program and it's, it's requires a lot of dedication and involvement from designers. Yeah. But it's going to be a really great story. And for us, that alignment piece to what our senior stakeholders are asking us to help deliver on for the year is really important.


S1: Look, I've had a such a good time speaking with the if people want to reach out to you and find out more. What's the best way for people to get in touch with you?


S2: I love LinkedIn.


S1: Is it actually?


S2: Yeah, I do. I don't have any I'm not on any other social media, so you can't find me anywhere else. All right.


S1: I'll throw it into your LinkedIn. You can even find me.


S2: You can find me on LinkedIn. Michelle Wolter. I am on there often. Yeah. Please reach out. I'm. I'm always happy to talk about design operations. I'm always happy to talk about culture and community, which is really close to my heart. And I'm also happy to share a lot of the learnings that, you know, myself and the team of have have come to, I guess, learn ourselves on our on our growth and development program the last couple of years.


S1: Michelle, thanks so much for your time and your energy take. Thank you for having me.


S2: It's been fun.


S1: Any time. Any time. So there you have it. That's all for this episode of Bringing Design Closer. If you like this episode, feel free to visit this excited e-com where you can access our back catalog of over 100 episodes with episodes related to service design, product management, design, research, and much, much more. If you're interested in design and innovation training, feel free to check out our business. This is doing dotcom where you can join online classrooms and learn from the world's best design and innovation leaders. Join that. This is eight city newsletter where you receive updates from the network and also, if you're interested, apply to join the Slack community. And this is Haiti dot com. Stay safe and until next time take care.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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