Is the financial sector ready for design-lead innovation?

Recently MB’s Mat Heinl spoke at the Anthemis Senior Executive Roundtable, at the launch of their Innovation Jury Report.

The theme of the fireside chat was ‘Innovation through design in the physical and digital world.’ Mat joined Anthemis Founder Sean Park and IDEO’s Head of Financial Services James Moed to discuss how the perception of design in the financial services sector is changing. As Moed explained, “design is not just what it looks like in the end, it’s the way you understand people’s needs and lives, before you even decide what it should look like.” Certainly not a new thought – but an important point to make when speaking to leaders within an industry that doesn’t traditionally understand or value design (see proof of this when Park questions the audience at point 4:45 in the video above!).

Mat suggested design was not just about people, but is about purpose. This idea is unpacked in the point-of-view article Mat wrote for the event, which discusses the role of brand in a moving world. Far from being just a logo, or a product, “A brand is the purpose of a business, what it offers and how it connects with people.” Mat’s article put forward five key points for businesses in the financial sector to consider:

  • People want to know why you exist. Employees and customers who understand the purpose of a business tend to want it to succeed more.
  • Mission statements, strategy documents and positioning diagrams may be useful but nothing connects with us emotionally like a story. If you want people to get it, the way you tell it counts.
  • A lot of businesses spend too much time listing rules. Defining a posture instead is powerful because it allows a business to act appropriately in scenarios that can’t be predicted. When the world changes, the business adapts.
  • Walt Disney once said “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language”. That made a huge amount of sense for him, but if you are making products and services you need to think beyond just how they look. User journey, tone, form, function and interaction are just as important.
  • People are becoming more and more used to customising and hacking the products and services they use. Hard to control, sure, but Google isn’t complaining about the pace of Android uptake. Be aware of this, and embrace it.

A huge thanks again to the Anthemis team for bringing together such a powerful and varied evening of speeches and conversation.