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Building an Agile Organisation at ING Bank Netherlands – Compact Case

By Julian Birkinshaw, Ken Mark


ING Group was established through a merger of three Dutch financial services firms in 1991. It expanded internationally into Europe and the Americas, and created a no-frills savings account business called ING Direct in the late 1990s.
In 2007 it merged its two main subsidiary banks, Postbank with 7 million customers but no branches, and ING Back, which had a full range of products and services and a large branch network. The process of merging the two banks was called Tango (‘Together Achieving New Growth Opportunities’) and was led by chief operating officer Bart Schlatmann. The merger involved integrating their IT operations, creating a common brand, and bringing together two very different organisational cultures. The migration of customers to the new platform began in 2009 and was completed in 2012, leading to a reduction in headcount of 4,000 and ongoing savings of €280 million a year.

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the concept of ‘agile working’ and what the pros and cons of this organising model are.
  2. Explain how agile really works in practice – what it feels like to be part of a self-organising team, how bottom-up team activities are aligned to top-down demands.
  3. Gain insight into a change process in a large established firm, especially focusing on the incremental steps that need to be taken before a more radical move is possible.


Publication Date: January 2021
LBS Case Code: CCS-21-002
Subjects: , , , ,
Pages: 4
Format: pdf