INTERVIEW – Ahead of this year’s Dutch Lean Summit on April 13-15, host ABN AMRO’s Arlene Bosman, until recently Head of Continuous Improvement, tells us what to look forward to.
Interviewee: Arlene Bosman, ZWW! Culture and Leadership Facilitator [ZWW: Zo Werken Wij – We Work This Way]
Planet Lean: In a nutshell, what problem was ABN AMRO trying to solve when it started to apply lean thinking?
Arlene Bosman: We started our lean journey five years ago, with the aim to improve customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and productivity. Around the same time, ABN AMRO completed the merger with Fortis Bank. Our cost/income ratio was too high and our processes were too complex. We had to do something!
Gerrit Zalm, our CEO, is the sponsor of the lean transformation, which we call Customer Excellence (CE). To date, we have trained about 200 Customer Excellence experts across the organization. They have accompanied over 67% of our employees through the Customer Excellence program, which we adapt to different environments (staff, operations and sales).
PL: What is most difficult about applying lean in a financial services environment?
AB: The difficulty of applying lean in a bank lies in the great variety of our processes and in our diverse workforce. Convincing financial specialists that lean is also suitable to their work is no easy feat.
PL: ABN AMRO is hosting the Lean Summit this year. What can attendees expect to learn from visiting your gemba?
AB: We are very proud to host the Lean Summit this year. Caroline Princen, a board member, is one of the keynote speakers. During our breakout session, we look forward to discussing supply chain management and lean with attendees – we started our supply chain management program “CE End to End” just a year ago. You will hear about our successes and the challenges we face. We are also very happy to facilitate the gemba walk to show you our daily huddles in different departments of ABN AMRO.
PL: What is ABN AMRO hoping to learn from the summit?
AB: We really look forward to the summit. We hope to learn from other lean practitioners and specialists, and to hear their tips and observations following the gemba walk at our Headquarters.