Driving a culture of continuous innovation in financial services

In light of PEX Live: OPEX in Financial Services 2022 taking place on 19–20 July 2022, we decided to exclusively release last year’s iteration’s opening session. Benjamin Maxim, assistant vice president of digital strategy and innovation at MSU Federal Credit Union, shared an inside look into how the business has been driving innovation by drawing on the experience of employees and how they have made this innovation a continuous process.

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Here we summarize some of the key points shared in the session, titled Embedding Innovation – Bridging the Digital Divide.

Sourcing innovation from employees

Following the rapid growth of MSU Federal Credit Union, which went from approximately 300 to 1,000 employees during Maxim’s 15-year tenure, it was decided that a focus on innovation would be necessary to sustain such growth.

The business knew that it is never possible to pinpoint exactly where innovation will come from but to ensure that no opportunity for it was missed, every member of staff would need to be given a voice to share any ideas they may have.

Knowing that the frontline employees of an organization are the most informed about customer demands or what is or is not working, MSU Federal Credit Union set to work on revamping the employee innovation process.

The business already had a system in place for employees to share ideas but it lacked defined processes for actioning them. This led to the creation of a platform for employees to share their ideas, dubbed CU innovate which came with a new system for actioning them.

If certain criteria are met, the idea is shared across the organization to allow employees to make suggestions and eventually vote on whether it can be carried out.

Related report: Driving quality customer experiences in financial services

Driving a culture of continuous innovation

MSU Federal Credit Union also organized innovation workshops. They draw eight employees on average from all departments to ensure that the innovation generated is done so with a holistic business mind-set.

The primary purpose of these workshops is to generate ideas and work on prototypes for new products to improve customer experience. They also serve as an opportunity to train employees in various approaches to innovation, such as design thinking, Lean start-up and Agile development methodologies.

Maxim explains that the benefits of these workshops go even further than this as the employees who take part will return to their teams and become champions for innovation and the methods they have learned. He noted that some even went on to organize their own miniature workshops to share what they had learned with the rest of their team.

To hear more experts share their insights and advice for driving OPEX in financial services, register for PEX Live: OPEX in Financial Services 2022.

Are there any unique systems for driving innovation at your own organization? Let us know in the comments below.

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