Making Change at Scotiabank

“What behaviours are we trying to change?”


This is a question that I always ask clients when discussing in-house digital marketing training initiatives.  It is a critical question because it focuses our conversation on the specific outcomes that we want to achieve, versus the different topics that we may want to cover.  Without being clear on specific outcomes, training is at best interesting and at worst a waste of time and resources.  Being clear on outcomes is particularly important for digital marketing training, since these programs often need to support larger digital transformation shifts within an organization.


One organization that is leading the digital transformation charge is Scotiabank. I recently had the pleasure of providing in-house digital marketing training for the Scotiabank Global Targeted Marketing Group, along with my good friend and frequent collaborator Michelle-Read Kulig.  Michelle and I designed a full-day training session for the entire department of 30+ people that focused on digital marketing strategy. 

We worked closely with our awesome Scotiabank clients to ensure that the session supported a vision for the group (organizational change) and how teams needed to support this transformation (individual change).  While I cannot disclose specifics from our session, I can share a simple 3-step workshop exercise that we used which focuses on making change.


1. What does the future look like for our group?

To start, it is important to establish a clear understanding of the future-state for the group in order to then explore the specific changes required to get there.  If this vision already exists, simply present it to participants (ensuring comprehension) and move on.  If it does not exist, create a Vision Board with workshop participants.  This exercise involves asking participants to describe what the future of the group looks like by writing characterizations on post-its.  This is best done together as a large group where participants read-out and post their descriptions on a highly visible Vision Board.  The facilitator then asks challenge questions (e.g. “how do these align with the digital transformation goals for our organization?”) and clusters common themes to achieve a high-level consensus or ‘North Star’ for the following exercises.


2. What changes are required to make this happen?

Next, shift from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’ by exploring the specific changes required by the department to support this vision.  To do so, use a Stop-Start-Continue exercise to examine the gap between the current and future state.  This exercise involves asking participants to identify key behaviours that need to stop, start, or continue within the marketing department in order to achieve the vision for the group.  This is best done in small groups with participants discussing and writing their responses on cards.  Leaders from each group then read-out and post their responses on another board.  The facilitator then asks further challenge questions (e.g. “what do we need as a marketing department to be able to action all of these changes?”), highlights conflicting responses and prioritizes specific actions with the group.


3. What can I personally do (tomorrow) to get started?

“But what does this all mean to me?!”  This is the question that will be swimming through the heads of every participant throughout the exercise, if not the entire session.  At this point, you are able to shift from the bigger picture to small individual actions.  To do so, use a Commitment Board exercise and have participants record the actions that they can do to support these larger shifts within their marketing department.  This is best done individually, with each participant taking 5 minutes to write down a few actions that they can take in the short-term, in their current role and within their day-to-day tasks.  Participants then read out their actions, and take their cards with them for reference.  The facilitator then concludes the 3-part exercise by showing how individual actions ladder up to higher-level digital transformation goals for the organization.

Digital transformation is such an ambiguous term, that many marketers are unclear (or threatened by) what it actually means to them and the work they do every day.  Digital training can not only play a big role in helping people understand what the term means to the marketing department, but can also leave participants inspired by what they can do to make it happen.