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  • Barclays Africa Commercial & Investment Bank

The Task:

To assist the bank’s Executive Leadership ideate ways the bank could be more relevant as an employer and as a competitor in the rapidly evolving African market. The brief was simple: ‘How might we make Barclays a better African bank for the realities of tomorrow.’



Our Role:

Matchboxology designed a series of 8 incubation sessions that brought together the executive leadership team and board members together with internal and external high performance “20 somethings” to explore new and diverse opportunities for the bank to evolve.

Matchboxology’s goal was to break down the organisation’s natural hierarchy barriers and articulate a more ‘meaningful’ purpose for the bank. It was critical that the outcomes from these 3-hour dinner sessions led to relevant actions and programmes that would be championed and resourced by senior leaders going forward.

Before we held our first session, we interviewed employees from the diverse operational groups of the bank as well as the Head of Culture and CEO in order to frame the context in which we were operating. Inspired on the insights we gathered, we applied human centred design methodologies to design a number of bespoke interactive games and exercises that would maximize discussion, debate and a diversity of views across the 8 workshops.

We introduced a cohort from the Brightest Young Minds [an independent organization of high performance “20 something” young professionals] into sessions to provide objective input and support the views and insights of the younger Barclays participants.


  • HCD approach left all participants with a greater shared empathy for what various stakeholders honestly desire. Pragmatic actions based on honest employee motivators and young adult insights were generated.
  • Participants were genuinely surprised at the unanimity of what purpose triggers ‘matter’ and which ones ‘do not matter’ across the employee age groups.
  • Beyond access to money, the process identified a limited but rich set of assets that had the potential to provide significant value to customers.
  • Inspiring new products and services were generated—defined as concepts that contributed a tangible sense of purpose to employees
  • A learning culture was nurtured – leaders with rigid viewpoints and fixed ideas embraced this process as a valuable path for building Barclays value.
  • What the client saw:

    • Employees collaborating to articulate a Barclays culture that was a ‘natural fit’ for their long term needs.
    • The importance of ‘Inspiring Work’ as the Barclays employee value proposition.
    • Specific, pragmatic product development and system actions to be implemented by persons/divisions who volunteered to champion within a CEO defined timetable.
    • A radical rethink of the banks most valuable assets
    • A re-assessment of risk analysis within the context of corporate social responsibility

    What Matchboxology saw:

    • Empathy generates business value, even in highly regulated/hierarchical environments like a multi-national corporate bank.
    • A mix of objective points of view, age, experience and competencies provides a step-change in thinking across all groups.
    • Ownership to implement new projects, concepts and initiatives is a natural byproduct of this process..

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