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The banking jobs : Chief Design Thinking Officer

  • Stéphane Biso Chief Design Thinking Officer
  • Paris
  • 06.12.2017

Chief Design Thinking Officer at BNP Paribas French Retail Banking (FRB), Stéphane Biso shares his passion for his job. Collaborative workshops, ideation, transformation, acceleration time for a deep dive into Design Thinking!

What are your main responsibilities as Chief Design Thinking Officer? 

My role at BNP Paribas French Retail Banking (FRB) is to boost the Bank’s transformation by bringing a completely disruptive approach to guide strategic projects or programs over a very short period of time, from two to five weeks, within the business unit but also within the Group!We seek to go outside well-trodden, constraining processes and break down silos in order to foster collaborative, cross-sectional ways of working—something like a start-up model, if you will. We work on designing a project course that results in new evolutions, whether they are digital (application, website, online form, chatbot), organizational (creating a middle office, designing a client schedule for customer needs) or commercial (training, positioning, communication, etc.).

To accelerate change at the Bank, I rely on a versatile team of design thinkers, who are well-versed in all methods from lean six-sigma to scrums, serious games and lean-start-up. Like a rugby team, we all run collectively towards the same goal line, which is to meet the needs of end-users, playing off one another in our different roles—ideas shaker, prospective & benchmark officer, roadmap officer, research & development officer. When the try is converted, the entire team wins!

What are the ingredients of a successful transformation project?   

First of all, my entire team is driven by the desire to succeed as a unit. Secondly, each transformation project involves seeking help from, on average, 20 to 25 FRB employees from all walks of life, be it business, legal, compliance, IT, etc. We only take up their time for one morning a week in order to preserve their enthusiasm and avoid interfering with their day-to-day tasks. Although we have many tools at our disposal to work on disruptive ideas (brainstorming, benchmarks, battles, gamification...) each project requires a tailor-made approach.

Because Design Thinking needs to be tailored to the topic at hand, and not the other way around!

What is the purpose of Design Thinking?

The purpose is to shake up organizational structures by stimulating a new way of thinking, freed from the usual way of doing things!

To proceed efficiently, each workshop results in a report, which often functions as a bridge between what we can describe as the tumultuous ideation of younger generations on the one hand, and the need for contextualization of their more experienced counterparts on the other. It’s exciting to combine the two approaches! This workshop report becomes a roadmap, which serves as a tool for deliberation, communication and sharing, but also management. Because everyone is involved in the roadmap’s construction, and validation, it ensures there are no discrepancies, no opportunities to say “I told you so,” “If you had consulted me…” or “would’ve/could’ve/should’ve.”

That’s not to say errors can’t be made. And even if 25 people are wrong, that does not mean they are incompetent. On the contrary, we see failure as a diploma. You just need to own up to it and course-correct quickly, as we learn by going forward. It’s entirely justified to invest an extra two weeks in a project when you’re going to save months of the company’s time.

How do you generate enthusiasm within the teams?

The collaborative approach is a big driver, as it fosters commitment. For example, for the launch of Buy My Home (a real estate mortgage simulation app), one of the MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) requested by management was to be able to edit a feasibility agreement for each simulation. This strategic requirement could have been mired in a thousand scope assessments before eventually making its way to Legal teams who would have processed it months later, without special priority. Things did not unfold in this manner because, from the very outset, we gathered all stakeholders (sponsors, lawyers, real estate agents, etc.) in the same room. The Legal department understood the issue, took ownership of the MVP in question and even became its main champion!

What made you want to do this job?

After 20 years of consulting, my wife made me realize that I’d been doing Design Thinking all along! Managing major programs within several groups had made me aware of the weight and astronomical costs of certain projects. When I joined BNP Paribas in 2008, I wanted to take a deep dive into the issues of transformation, innovation and flexibility within a major player with a historical presence in its market.

What are the requisite qualities for what you do?

Being flexible and ready to jump on board!  You also need to be someone who’s passionate and willing to get involved directly, someone who’s creative and has good people skills, who’s ready to listen, to observe, who knows when to take a step back and always remain curious. For many colleagues, our workshops are like a breath of fresh air! In addition to these essential qualities, it takes real rigor to get the creative juices flowing during the workshops—they require a lot of time and energy for preparation, casting, sequencing and summarizing, and it all has to be seamless.

What is your latest professional achievement? 

I am very proud of having received the recognition of my peers, notably with the success of my book*, which was prefaced by Olivier Sampieri, Senior Partner and Managing Director of BCG (Boston Consulting Group) and was something of a bestseller at Viva Technology Paris 2017!

What is your greatest challenge today?  

Writing a second book and maintaining my team’s ability to create impact within BNP Paribas, and beyond! 

“ My best advice would be: arrive with your ideas, and I do mean your own! Because the “traditional” way of doing management is over. ”

Stéphane Biso

Chief Design Thinking Officer

*Design Thinking – Accélérez vos projets par l’innovation collaborative [Design Thinking: Accelerate your projects through collaborative innovation], June 2017, Dunod, Paris

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