Banking Fintech

5 New Year resolutions for bank innovators

5 New Year resolutions for bank innovators. Image: Romain Vignes, StockSnap
Written by JP Nicols

JP Nicols shares New Year resolutions that should come in handy for bank innovators who want to succeed in 2016 and beyond.

Here are some New Year resolutions for the growing group of bankers who are adding ‘innovation’ to their to-do lists in 2016. Getting these right will greatly improve your chances for success in the new year.

 Define your innovation goals

What do you want to get out of your innovation program?

  • Incremental improvements or radical disruption?
  • Catching up to competitors or breaking new ground?
  • Renewing existing capabilities or creating new ones?
  • Updating your offerings or launching new products?
  • Pushing more ideas from the top down or bubbling more from the bottom up?
  • A focused challenge or a broader initiative across business lines?

Define your innovation goals and align your team and your priorities accordingly.

 Take your innovation program seriously …

Hopefully, you’re doing this because you recognize that the world is changing, and that companies in every industry have to change and adapt with it; to retain your current customers, to acquire new ones, to generate new revenues, and to stay relevant.

Innovation shouldn’t be the flavor of the month, nor something that someone from your executive committee wrote down at the ‘strategic offsite’ as a box to check off for the next board meeting. It should be part of the way you do business; part of your DNA.

Put the right people in charge. This isn’t the place to park your retiring executive or the place to create some resumé padding for your up and comers. Find the smart and curious people who challenge the status quo. Get some outside help. There’s a pretty good chance that starting an innovation program is significantly different than anything you’ve managed before, and many of the instincts and experiences that have led to your current success may actually get in the way.

 … but not too seriously

Create a sandbox where people are free to experiment and test and try new things. Don’t force your normal ROI metrics on an innovation project that’s really unique, disruptive or conceptual. If you do, you’ll end up watering it down to something much more incremental. This may be OK, but you may also miss out on something that could really differentiate you from your competitors.

Truly transformational ideas take a while to build and test and get traction, so don’t throw all of your resources into one massive project. Start with some smaller projects where you don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes.

 Focus on learning

Get out of the office and learn from what others are doing. Meet entrepreneurs who are coming up with new solutions that you may be able to use (many of them want to partner). Look at new ideas from different industries and think about how they might be applied. Read more!

We have a tendency in the banking industry to develop new ideas inside our own four walls, validated only by our own people and inside our own echo chambers.

 Focus on the customer

Innovation isn’t necessarily about cool technology. The most successful ideas are those that solve a real pain point or create an important gain for a customer.

Don’t be afraid to get customers involved early. Talk to them. Even better, watch what they do. What workarounds have they created to fill gaps between existing offerings? What products or services are they using from your competitors?

Focus your innovation efforts on things that matter to your customers.

– This podcast is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes may have been made to the text to reflect BankNXT style considerations, but the podcast itself is always unchanged. You can find the original post here. Image: Romain Vignes, StockSnap

About the author

JP Nicols

JP Nicols has more than 20 years' experience as an adviser to high net worth families, a manager and senior leader. He is a writer, speaker and trainer, and has served in numerous leadership positions, including chief private banking officer for the Wealth Management Group of US Bank.

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