I was interviewed recently by Independent Banker magazine for my thoughts on trends impacting the world of banking. I do a lot of keynotes in this area — with clients such as VISA, the National Australia Bank, the Texas Credit Union League, American Express, CapitolOne, the American Community Bankers Association, Wells Fargo and many, many more.
Instill an innovative mindset to push your bank into the future
By Sam Schaust
Innovation is not a word solely owned by today’s tech giants in Silicon Valley. Or so thinks Jim Carroll, a futurist from Toronto who has given dozens of keynote speeches on the power of innovation to companies such as Walt Disney, Wells Fargo and NASA.
“A lot of eyes gloss over the word ‘innovation,’ and people think the word only applies to someone like Steve Jobs who designed cool stuff that changed the world,” Carroll says. “They might think, ‘I’m a banker. What can I do?’”
To Carroll, anyone is capable of innovating an aspect of the community banking industry. However, he believes to do so, three essential questions must be asked , the first of which is: What can be done to run the business better?
“There are plenty of opportunities to implement more information technology to reduce costs, streamline processes and become more efficient,” he says.
Which begs the second question: What can be done to grow the business?
Concepts regarding “how to use mobile to capture the millennial generation” and “how to utilize leading-edge transaction technology or new products to attract untapped customers,” Carroll notes, are typical subsections of this question. “Essentially, it all comes down to how you think differently to attract new sources of revenue,” he says.
Finally comes the question: What can be done to transform the business? “Transformation of the business is all about preparing for the fact that, for example, with credit-card payments, now Apple and PayPal are competitors,” Carroll says. “With an increasing number of organizations getting into the banking space, you may need to change the essence of what you do and how you do it to keep up with reality.”
Staying current with today’s banking industry—along with innovating for the future—could require an internal shake-up. As Carroll suggests, “By hiring somebody who thinks just like you, you aren’t going to get any creative, innovative ideas. Instead, if you hire somebody you don’t like or who is dramatically different from you, then you’ll get those different opinions.”
Groundbreaking ideas often can come from outside of your field of business, Carroll believes, adding that adopting “an outsider mentality” could prove to be a valuable asset.
“With an increasing number of organizations getting into the banking space, you may need to change the essence of what you do and how you do it to keep up with reality.”
—Jim Carroll, Futurist
To bring about a new revenue opportunity, Carroll sees an advantage in embracing methods that break from the traditional structure. “Part of what I talk about is speed of opportunity,” he says. “What’s happening out there is new opportunities are emerging faster and you’ve got to have a culture and capability to grab onto that very quickly.”
Growing through experience
Carroll believes that an innovative attitude at a community bank needs to be set from the top. “It’s got to start at the board,” he says. “Although, that’s the toughest thing and it simply doesn’t come overnight.”
By adopting a forward-thinking mindset, mistakes are sure to be made, Carroll adds. “Be an organization that doesn’t just celebrate wins, but failures, too,” he says. “In today’s world, organizations will get ahead through the depth of their financial capital. That’s important, but there’s also our experiential capital—the experience we gain from trying something new.”
By hiring somebody who thinks just like you, you aren’t going to get any creative, innovative ideas.” — Jim Carroll, Futurist
Innovation typically comes from a general interest for what’s occurring beyond one’s industry, Carroll notes. By simply embracing the what’s new or unusual, “we build up our experience,” he says. “And the more experiential capital we have, the better positioned we are to make big, bold leaps in the future.”