Deutsche Bank has integrated regional aspects of its business, overlaying the divisional structure on top of that. While integrating global business functions, Deutsche Bank brought its learning and development under one roof, as part of a global integration of human resources. “We tried to integrate things across a pretty complex global organization in a way which still allows businesses to get what they need,” said Dr. Martin Moehrle, chief learning officer for Deutsche Bank. “We are part of an integrated human resources department. We are not an integrated training or learning function that operates outside HR, which you see in quite a few firms. Now we are fully integrated with the people in human capital management in general, and therefore have a lot of ties into HR—succession planning, talent management, diversity and a lot of these things which are tied together and developed together.”
Choosing to integrate should be a very strategic decision, Moehrle said. For Deutsche Bank, that strategic decision resulted in Moehrle taking charge of a diverse learning organization, with regional and divisional managers reporting directly to him, along with a “dotted line” into the HR director of the division. Moehrle helps the learning and development leaders work as a team and come up with joint decisions. “It’s not just a community where people try to work on a knowledge database and leverage each other’s experiences and talk a little bit with each other,” he explained. “Now, they are forced to work from the same platform, to join a meeting every quarter, to join regular calls with the management team and to decide jointly and accept the decisions that are relevant for the whole enterprise, which makes these meetings certainly more heated than if you left everybody in his or her world alone.”
The newly integrated learning and development function is in the performance improvement business, Moehrle said. “At the end of the day, I see us very strongly being driven by the needs of the line and the strategies of the firm,” he said. “I don’t see ourselves as being an independent training factory and having our own strategy. We are there to improve the performance of the business, and nothing else.”
But, Moehrle asked, how can an organization do this in an effective way, especially when the organization is spread throughout the world and in diverse business areas? “My people have to know our business and know the markets, and anticipate the strategic development and come up with solutions for how we can make sure that our leadership and our core staff is well-equipped to create a successful future for the firm that is very line- and strategy-driven and less driven by an inward-looking kind of focus,” Moehrle said.
According to Moehrle, the global integration of the learning function gave rise to two major challenges. First, there were the management challenges of administering a complex unit with so many diverse stakeholders, regions and divisions. The second challenge was learning how to ensure that each line of business gets the learning and development needed to help it be supported and successful in its strategy execution.
Addressing the management challenge, Moehrle said, “The challenge is the in-built tension in the matrix between a divisional team, divisional strategies and what the division would want to have, and the generalization across the platform—the standardization or harmonization. There is a tension between central and decentral, between sharing and doing it on your own in your division. This is something which you normally don’t manage. You leave the tension as is by not integrating it. You just let the corporate and the head-office guys do their thing.”
In a decentralized organization, different people in different divisions may know each other, but they don’t know what the others are doing, Moehrle said. Part of the challenge of integrating is creating a global matrix organization to ensure effectiveness. “We don’t want to create a central unit which is losing contact and a sense of reality with the businesses,” Moehrle explained. “That requires an ongoing dialogue you have with the businesses.”
If the learning function does not work to ensure that each business is happy with the learning solutions it is receiving, the business units will devolve back to decentralized formats on their own, Moehrle said. “You have to make compromises along the road to make sure that each business gets exactly what it needs. Otherwise, they begin again to build their teams in the line behind your back, which we don’t want,” he explained.
Instead of allowing this to happen, Moehrle said those training people located within the lines of business and outside HR were brought onto the shared platform as part of the integration, but not without some hesitation. The lines were worried that their needs would become lost within the larger, more centralized unit. Moehrle’s team assured the businesses that this was not the case. “You get exactly what you need. The people that I take on from you will continue in the beginning at least to serve you and support you, but they are not an isolated individual training team or person in your business,” Moehrle said. “They are part of a bigger community. They have bigger career prospects, and one day they might want to move into another role. But for the beginning, nothing will change. It’s more of a gradual development.”
Because the integration of the global practice was part of an HR integration, there was no need to convince the boardroom of the necessity of the change. “It was more an organic development than a big bang kind of thing,” Moehrle said. “In the first step in 2001, we combined all the regional training teams and created the first community that was called Deutsche Bank University.”
He added, “It was never a top-down unit in terms of the CEO thinking that he has to monopolize the learning of the top 1, 2 or 3 percent and create a unit that helps him convey the message and the strategy. No, it was a bottom-up integration of existing regional teams.”
This led to the second stage of the integration process, when in 2003, Deutsche Bank added divisional and corporate center teams to the corporate university and started calling it simply, “learning and development.”
Integrating the learning and development function has allowed Deutsche Bank to consolidate and reduce the number of management processes. Before integration, Deutsche Bank was using 16 front-end and eight back-end learning management systems. After integrating the learning and development function, Deutsche Bank will be unified on a single, fully integrated learning management solution. In addition, 297 local or divisional, non-standardized processes will be replaced with nine global processes, which include some regional specialization. Standardizing these processes increases cost-efficiency and simplifies the implementation and upgrade processes.
“On an operational-excellence level, we are now able to reduce 300-plus different processes alone in learning management to nine standardized,” Moehrle said, “to be able to have one learning management system supporting all learning for all employees in one tool. That allows us to report across the platform, allowing us to make wiser investment decisions on where to invest and in which skills.”
Before integrating the function, Moehrle said each region had different standards to report on, and the final reports could not be aggregated. “Now we can report nicely,” he said. “We can roll out quickly programs. We can distribute e-learnings for the one platform. So we are quicker and leaner, we have a more transparent role, are better able to report and make better investment decisions in people.”
Prior to integration, Deutsche Bank offered 3,500 courses in 16 catalogs, including more than 125 leadership courses, and it relied on around 4,500 vendors, more than half of which were not contracted by learning and development. As part of the integration process, Moehrle and his team created a core curriculum, with a maximum of 100 courses driven by the existing capabilities and the future performance needs of the organization. These core courses are reviewed on a quarterly basis to ensure they are well-aligned and relevant to the business. The core curriculum focuses on seven categories of learning: personal and team effectiveness, business and finance, leadership and management, regulatory and compliance, professional qualifications, orientation, and information technology.
Deutsche Bank outsources much of its training, Moehrle said, and by doing so the firm has been able to reduce its learning and development head count to approximately 140. By outsourcing some of the administrative functions and the standard product training, the professionals remaining within the learning and development team can focus more on mission-critical functions. “We can invest in people and in activities which are more on the strategizing side, on the design side, on the advisory and coaching side—more impactful,” Moehrle said.
Integrating and centralizing has also allowed the HR and learning functions to focus on one important strategic direction for Deutsche Bank. “It is one of the major objectives of our CEO to overcome the very strong divisional realities that we’ve created and create more under the banner of One Bank, a more integrated culture,” Moehrle said.
In fact, integrating leadership development is another major step in the integration process. A key to the process was identifying leadership standards as the core of a balanced and holistic leadership model and embedding these in key people processes, such as performance management. These leadership standards define accountabilities relating to managerial effectiveness, including creating value for clients, risk management and cost management, as well as accountabilities relating to the overall culture and behavior of the firm, such as the One Bank commitment, managing long-term talent and assets, and fostering diversity.
The new leadership curriculum is streamlined from 128 programs to 14 “core” programs, delivered in various formats and focusing on the transition into a new managerial role. The development of an integrated leadership curriculum is focused on building skills and knowledge, as well as supporting the organization’s culture and values. To help support culture, Deutsche Bank offers a series of leadership forums for newly appointed vice presidents, directors and managing directors. “We have a series of forums that help integrate the firm culturally,” Moehrle said. “This is something we were certainly not able to deliver in a scattered learning and development world. There, you would have created an additional action office and hired additional people to deliver that on top of what normally would be offered.”
Instead, Moehrle and his team focus on helping take Deutsche Bank back from a “buy talent” to a “build talent” approach.
Moving forward, Moehrle said Deutsche Bank plans to continue the integration process and discover the “soul” of a globally integrated firm. “The majority of our top-level managers are no longer Germans, and our goal is to help on that global level that the firm achieved to build identity and to further develop our leadership framework and to step-by-step improve in how we support the business,” Moehrle said. “So if you ask me where I want to see ourselves in a few years, I want to see ourselves to be a best practice organization in a lot of things—improving our skills and the allocation of the talent and resources within our practice, improving our relationship to and the value creation for the client divisions and getting better at what we do in little steps.”