Innovation is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed

Very often, a new innovation / product awareness /user onboarding feature has been already tried by a different team, different bank

Daniel Gusev
Feb 24 · 2 min read

I’ve learned so many stories from who was for me one of the pioneers of modern banking innovation: James Gardner showed the art of near-impossible at Lloyds Banking Group before innovation labs and then venture in banking came into vogue.

After he had left the banking stage to purse more rewarding opportunities, as, based on his calculus, innovation teams still rarely survived for more than 18 months on average (I went to support the median twice) — new teams that I came to get to know — often repeated the very same ideas the old team, long gone, tried to develop into meaningful products and services.

Learning from mistakes was not a well-developed practice, executives taking sponsorship over innovation practices, used it very often as a leverage against their peers and so only victories were recorded, while failures were masked and those deemed responsible for them hidden away or made redundant.

Hence, only the meek stayed and pushed paperwork devoid of real reason this or that happened. Innovation programs came to rationalise the perceived and marketed ends and not the real goals they were deemed to achieve.

The Lean Startup approach changed the practice and more often banks tend to test new ideas in conjunction with an external startup: bank specialists moderate and accelerate, rather than incubate. Innovation labs of banks operate more successfully as beacons luring ideas they then structure as part of tedious implementation pipelines. Banks still remain predominantely supply-chain businesses with discretionary goals around risk and Asset/Liability management. Good and bad practices still remain and amid the PR still aplenty it is hard to know which is which.

Daniel Gusev

Written by

10+ years, 2 labs, 1 bank, 2 startups, 1 exit. Digital banker, wishful tinkerer, amateur father. Fintech VC @gauss_vc and co-founder of @finfitapp.

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