A while ago I attended a conference (I know, shocker) where someone on stage commented that no bank would ever have been allowed to release 'Square', with the amount of bugs the US payments startup experienced at its launch. Square, as you all know, offers
the square-shaped merchant dongle that enables mobile transactions.
Now this isn't a discussion on whether or not the Square dongle was launched with bugs. But it is a wider comment on one of the main issues around whether banks are even able to innovate effectively.
The entire 'Silicon Valley'-type start up culture is based on a decades-old mind set where hordes of developers released code and applications onto user groups, forums and yes, even the greater public, and then have the hive fix any emergent bugs. One of
the first stories I ever wrote was about the trouble Intel got into by releasing a chip, which hadn't been probably tested, which caused several fund managers to experience 'calculation errors' in their investment portfolios. In 1995 the general public weren't
aware of this type of creative operation - however today it is almost conventional wisdom to always avoid release 1.0 of any service or application.
But let's get back to banks and innovation. Banks deal with money, more often than not, your money. Banks haven't done well on the PR front over the past few years - but their cornerstone of secure, regulated current accounts and deposits is their main finger
hold on the public's trust. That position of trust, inhibits banks from developing and launching services that might be less than, let's say, secure or reliable.
So what is this industry to do?
We sat down with Capco spin-off Boldrocket founder Andrew Tarver last week. He's betting the future of this industry and by correlation, the future of Capco, on this concept
that projects should be allowed to fail. That failure is good.
That there are times when "you should put down the spade and stop digging".
I find this fascinating. In an age where you get guru and expert telling rows on upon rows of the dark suited amongst us 'what the future will be like' (it has something to do with digital and mobile, right?) here is someone who is saying: 'We think the
future will be like this (yes, digital, mobile etc...) but we not entirely sure how it will all pan out - so we are going to try. And if we fail, we're going to stop and try again.'
I worked for an editor, eons ago, who used to quote Yoda after all her demands because she thought it made her sound like a baddass. 'You do or do not do, there is no try."
I've never been a black and white world kind of girl. They key to success is not 'do or do not do' it is try, try again, try one more time, try this instead, have a glass of wine, sleep on it, can we try this now?...then do.
(told ya I'd blog more :-)