Exercises help future planning

By Meridith Levinson, CIO |  Software

If participants were split on the likelihood of an event, they attempted to reach a
consensus. One dispute was about whether customers would do business with a Bank based
on price or service. (The group never resolved this one, so they left it as an unknown
and worked it into their scenario as such.)

Next, each group was assigned a possible scenario (the three outlined previously)
and over two days were charged with analyzing how the various events that they ranked
might influence it. "This scenario-based planning exercise recognizes that an end-state
four or five years from today is really not just a single end-state but a journey from
today through a lot of events leading up to that endpoint," says Robert Rupp, director
of National City's consolidation services and a member of the core team.

The team working on the customer-focused scenario came up with the following events
that might lead to it: forming alliances with companies outside the retail Banking
industry, integrating financial information for customers to become a one-stop shop for
their financial needs, and restructuring National City around customer segments rather
than regions (the Bank had 1,300 branches in six states). They also took into account
trends that might prevent them from becoming customer focused, such as the Internet
conditioning consumers to care less about personal service and more about price.

The groups then presented their scenarios and tried to convince the other
participants that their vision was the most plausible. Gorney warns that this part of
the exercise can be difficult. "Scenario planning requires role playing, which can be
uncomfortable since it forces people to assume a vieww that may be contrary to what
they initially believe," he says. They do, however, have the opportunity to voice their
personal opinions after their presentation.

Finally, participants discussed which outcome was best for the Bank. There was
significant debate over whether National City could really develop one-to-one
relationships with its customers. That would involve intimately knowing which product
or service was right for an individual customer by tracking her financial activity. It
would also involve highly targeted marketing campaigns. The alternative was to focus on
improving all their products and delivering them as efficiently as possible. Each line
of business would push its products without regard to whether it was the right thing
for a particular customer.

Though the group started to agree on increasing its customer focus rather than
becoming product-centered, it was ultimately up to Daberko, who joined the session on
the last day, to make the call. He decided that National City would pursue the customer-
centric model because he believes that this is ultimately where the industry is going.

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