Innovating for Results - Case Studies - Part 1


I was recently asked to blog about some of the successful consulting and training projects I have been involved with over the last two decades. There are many, but I will start with four of my favorites representing a range of industries. Below is an overview of Project #1. 

Client # 1: Bank of America

Client Needs

Client Need:

Faced with increasing customer expectations, advances in technology, and mergers within their industry, the President of their retail division set out to define what it means to be a bank in the 21st century. He wanted customers walking into B of A branch offices to feel like they had stepped into a Nordstrom’s department store rather than a typical large bank. Everyone at B of A would need to become customer service and sales focused, in that order.

B of A wanted its branch managers to think and operate with a true entrepreneurial mindset. The goal was to get everyone in the bank, from managers to tellers, acting like independent business owners instead of bureaucrats in a financial institution. To help branch managers understand this transformation, B of A adopted a “franchise management” training initiative. “The branches are to think of themselves as ‘franchise stores’ with certain corporate parameters, policy and budgetary constraints, but also with an imperative to make risk-taking, innovative decisions within the latitude granted them.” 

Training Challenge:

This fundamental transformation in thinking and behaving would take more than simply training managers in the “tactics” of franchise management if it were to be successful. After all, these were financial analysts, and MBA’s, not sales and customer service people. Most branch managers had worked for years and had an established mental model. Resistance to a new paradigm would be high. B of A would need help to achieve this paradigm shift with their managers.  

Training Solution: 

B of A selected Innovating for Results  (IFR) for a three-day franchise management training program designed to help managers understand why radical change was needed and to gain the necessary thinking skills to embrace it.  

The first step was to bring regional and district managers together and introduce them to this new vision for the branches. Anticipating the natural resistance to change, IFR was introduced at this level before going to the local branches. Next, a pilot program was done for 180 branch managers in Arizona. Given the late October (I.e. Halloween) timeframe, and after discussions with senior executives planning the event, manager-attendees were asked to come to the pilot dressed outrageously. Imagine a room full of managers dressed in scuba diving gear, pajamas, hunting garb, and more! IFR immediately set a tone that change was fun and positive. 

Managers meeting

After the pilot, customized adjustments were made to IFR to maximize the impact for B of A managers and employees and to fully integrate IFR with broader Franchise Management Training. In addition, in-house B of A trainers learned to facilitate IFR training.

With the customized IFR and in-house trainers in place, 3,000 branch managers were trained in less than three months. 

The Results:

The conventional banker mindset was rapidly replaced with an entrepreneurial one, facilitated by IFR training. 

New ideas are given more life and are not “firehosed”, allowing for greater innovation and efficiency. 

Long-standing barriers created by archaic policies and procedures were reviewed and in many cases removed or modified to better serve the customer.

Operations managers faced similar issues were trained in sales management, and elements of IFR were added to their two-day sales management course.

Customer Service Managers requested that a one-day IFR training be developed to focus on helping employees to be more innovative at problem solving.

Client Comment:

IFR has been a tremendous catalyst in helping our people find a new way to think about our future. It has given us the foundation we need to transform our organization from it’s conventional, conservative past to a more innovative entrepreneurial future.”

* IFR is the newly released and expanded version of “Break-It! Thinking.”