Stakeholder involvement in the new service design process: Legal Services department

At the meso level, agencies of the external regulatory framework, including the Bank of England and the Inland Revenue, are represented by internal functions such as the Legal Services department (LSD) and the Inland Revenue Compliance Unit. One conflict, or tension, that arises between the areas of LSD and NPDD is due to the perceived conservatism of the former. Often product information contains a considerable amount of legal terminology but NPDD want to simplify information to make it more meaningful to the customer. Additionally, legislative compliance often requires accompanying small print in advertisements or leaflets. The customer often feels that this is to their detriment whereas the bank regards it as being for its own protection.

The impact of this legal framework was described by one interviewee as being a constraint when thinking about radical redesign of products:

‘I would support anything that looks into that area because that’s what we’re after, not only from a differentiating or business point of view, but also from moving the whole product sector on. Every player has some responsibility to do that. There are things that are out of our control — we have to change the law, there are constraints.’

Senior management: The Executive

Clearly as a profit-making organisation, shareholder interests must be of prime concern to senior management decision making, and the potential for perceived conflict of interests here has already been mentioned. The NPDD is a cost centre, currently considered an overhead, but there is discussion of future status as a profit centre. A key criterion for service development is, of course, that there is sufficient customer demand.

A driving force for the new organisation structure and a more innovative culture was a new senior executive. The creation of NPDD, introduction of managers and staff with non-financial service experience, and delegation of increased borrowing authority to product team managers, are all illustrations of senior management’s commitment to innovation in new service design.

As the most senior decision-making authority within the bank, the Executive has the power to approve or refuse any initiative. The launch of new products is no exception to this.

‘You always have to think of the Executive . . . they could say no to anything. There was one instance when .. . several days before the launch they said no, they just got cold feet and pulled the plug. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to work around that . . . they’re very much mindful of the image of the bank . . .’

However, the Executive is not prone to interventionist tactics as a general rule:

‘To a large extent they let us get on with things. If we seriously screwed up they’d get much more involved in what we’re doing but so far so good. That’s really been the only instance and that wasn’t the design of the product itself, it was how it was going to be launched into the market.’

The NPDD recognised that, as a major stakeholder in NPD, it would be beneficial to involve the Executive in early stages of the process. At the time this research was being conducted, the NPDD was intending to issue an invitation to the Executive to join design workshops, but were unsure whether the invitation would be accepted or regarded as appropriate. There were mixed views as to how relaxed and open NPDD staff would be when in the presence of senior executives or how willing senior executives would be to spend time brainstorming and taking part in what are often rather ‘whacky’ creativity sessions.

 

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