In a recent episode of the podcast, "Banking on Digital Growth", James Robert Lay shared insight into a question raised by Paul, an audience member at one of his recent keynote speeches, who curious about developing what James Robert refers to as a 'Digital Growth Engine'. James Robert not only identifies the most crucial technology to build a Digital Growth Engine but also emphasizes the importance of a progressive mindset for transformative growth.

The top 3 insights from this article:

  • The importance of a progressive mindset: Rather than focusing solely on procuring the latest technologies, banking and credit union leaders should cultivate a progressive mindset that embraces digital growth and is willing to let go of past practices.
  • The power of adaptability and future-oriented thinking: The examples of Kodak and Netflix underscore the importance of adaptability and forward-thinking in achieving digital growth.
  • The GRO Methodology: By using this methodology, banking and credit union leaders can create a pathway for growth, enabling them to overcome roadblocks and seize opportunities.

Breaking Down the Digital Growth Engine

The Digital Growth Engine is a core strategic element for financial institutions including banks, credit unions, and FinTech companies. However, contrary to popular belief, the essential technology for this endeavor is not something you can buy or acquire. It is something much more profound and intrinsic – the human mind.

James Robert believes that our mindset towards growth and technology plays a crucial role in developing a Digital Growth Engine. He encourages banking and financial professionals to view growth from a 'digital-first' perspective, where the physical branches of the banks support the growth in the digital world.

Kodak's Misstep: The Cautionary Tale

As an illustration of the importance of mindset and embracing technology, James Robert narrated the story of Kodak, the company that invented the digital camera back in 1975. However, despite having the technology at their disposal, Kodak failed to capitalize on their innovation because their mindset was rooted in their legacy model of physical film.

Their failure to adapt to the digital world and their reluctance to cannibalize their existing business model for the sake of future growth eventually led to their downfall. This story serves as a cautionary tale for banks and other financial institutions that are hesitant to fully embrace digital growth.

The Netflix Revolution: The Success Story

Contrasting the Kodak narrative, James Robert recounted the success story of Netflix. Despite starting out as a mail-to-DVD delivery model, Netflix had the foresight and the courage to shift their entire business model to a streaming platform in 2007. They took this bold step based on the projection of evolving consumer behavior. Even though their decision was initially met with resistance, it proved to be a strategic move that catapulted Netflix to the status of a global entertainment giant.

This willingness to risk everything for future growth and adapt to changing consumer behavior is a testament to the transformative power of having the right mindset.

The Future of Digital Growth

James Robert's insights serve as a valuable lesson for financial institutions to recognize the transformative potential of the digital world. The most crucial step in building a Digital Growth Engine and ensuring future growth lies not in procuring the latest technology, but in developing a progressive mindset that is willing to let go of past practices and adapt to the evolving digital landscape.

In an age dominated by AI and digital technology, financial institutions need to embrace the philosophy of 'letting go to grow'. This involves acknowledging that what got us here today will not necessarily lead us to where we need to be tomorrow. As we move forward, we need to continually reassess our knowledge and strategies, just as Socrates professed, "I know, I know nothing."

To truly master the Digital Growth Engine, we need to transform our mindset, challenge our established notions, and embrace the unknown potential of the digital world.

The 'How do you want to GRO?' 

This simple question poses a unique perspective on personal and team development, particularly in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is instrumental in establishing one's position within the rapidly progressing digital realm. 'GRO' can be decoded as Goals, Roadblocks, and Opportunities.

Let's examine each component.

Goals: It is necessary to envision your desired future before setting out on the journey. Imagining your progress over a three-year timespan is an effective approach. Imagine a casual conversation over coffee or cocktails, and try to describe the strides you've made in the digital realm over the past three years. It's crucial to be specific about what you've achieved, how you've grown, and how you've met challenges head-on. This reflective exercise provides clarity about your future goals.

Roadblocks: After envisioning your future, bring your thoughts back to the present. Identify the barriers that could potentially hinder your progress towards the goals you've set. These roadblocks could be anything from a lack of technical knowledge, resources, or a supportive environment. Recognizing these obstacles is not a deterrent, rather an opportunity to strategize ways to overcome them.

Opportunities: Now, turn your attention to the opportunities available. Each roadblock identified is an opportunity in disguise, waiting to be utilized. Consider the steps you can take to overcome each barrier, and the opportunities you can create, capture, or capitalize on. Remember, progress here is greater than perfection, and the aim is to keep moving forward towards your goals.

By identifying goals, recognizing roadblocks, and harnessing opportunities, you have created a pathway to growth. This pathway, unified with persistent action, helps to overcome roadblocks and inch closer to your goals.

As leaders, it's essential to guide your team through this introspective exercise, fostering a unified approach towards digital growth. This approach allows for a comprehensive understanding of the landscape and helps in building a resilient Digital Growth Engine in the age of AI.

Mastering one's mind and mindset is the most important technology to master in this age. It offers a profound edge over the rapidly evolving digital space, enabling us to continuously level up loans and deposits in the AI era.

Take Action Today:

  • Cultivate a progressive mindset: It's not about the latest technologies, but about fostering a forward-thinking mentality that embraces digital growth. We need to let go of outdated practices and consider growth from a digital-first perspective. So, rethink your strategies and make sure your teams are on the same journey.
  • Adapt and look forward: Netflix's story illustrates how crucial adaptability and future-oriented thinking are for digital growth. Despite the resistance, their shift to a streaming platform led them to become a global entertainment leader. In contrast, Kodak, despite having the technology, failed because they stuck to their legacy model. For banks and credit unions, it's a stark reminder that what brought success in the past won't necessarily work in the future.
  • Implement the GRO Methodology: Goals, Roadblocks, and Opportunities – this framework is key to developing your pathway for growth. Set clear goals, identify potential roadblocks, see each barrier as a disguised opportunity, and develop your winning ways by overcoming those roadblocks. Guide your team through this exercise, as it's the unified approach that will help build a resilient Digital Growth Engine.

Remember, in the age of AI, it's our mindset that's the most important technology to master. By letting go to grow, we can navigate through the digital space and continually level up in the AI era. As Socrates once said, "I know, I know nothing."

For more about financial transformation, reach out to James Robert Lay at the Digital Growth Institute.