Oct 03, 2017

By Jennifer Sertl

Nostalgia~ The Biggest Obstacle to Innovation

Brett King & Rachel Morrissey are rigorous in their pursuit to help us all get clear that the banking model of bricks and mortar is no longer sufficient for the speed and diversity that globalization and entrepreneurship require. People will always need banking, but clearly no longer needs banks. The first time I heard that was in 2015 and I thought it sounded clever. Now three years later, we are seeing the banking paradigm visibly crack. Recently IMF Christine Lagarde made the point:

Virtual currencies are in a different category, because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems. These systems allow for peer-to-peer transactions without central clearinghouses, without central banks.

If you are not in progressive, high technology communities this conversation may seem radical. I am in Rochester, NY the home of Rochester Institute of Technology and Kodak — the poster child for a business that didn’t listen and learn. While we have some progressive leaders and some neat businesses, the terms #fintech #cryptocurrency and #blockchain are not part of our regular vernacular, yet. We still have so much work to do to build bridges between digital natives and traditional working class outside of the banking industry. Every once in a while, I’d invite that we step back and ask — who do we need to educate so that he/she can participate? Participation is the currency of today.

Listening to the Next Money Chicago conversation among Ron Shelvin, Derek Corcoran, Duena Blomstrom and Kris Kovacs about finch platforms, the tension between past and future was palpably brought to life:

Do we sacrifice what we have built in order to gain much more of anticipated marketplace?

Do we have the psychological resilience to take a short term loss as we build bridge to opportunity?

How much of the platform is based on traditional financial models with higher levels of digital sophistication vs. how much of the platform is based on an entirely new mindset?

What are the key indicators of progress and success both tangible and intangible?

There are no easy answers and each person and organization is going to have to find their place on the continuum of these polarities. Keeping the complexity visible is useful.

Blomstrom has a very important point of view, “being a platform isn’t about the numbers, it is about connectivity.” Building on capability, the questions she asks are important to all of us:

How far along are you?

How well do you curate?

How good are you at plug-n-play?

In this midst of so much complexity, perhaps the best we can do is frame good questions. I want to leave you with one: What is the biggest obstacle to your abilitly to innovate? I asked this question to Fast Company’s Robert Safain and he replied with a matter of fact grin, “The biggest obstacle to innovation is nostalgia.”

In the rigor,


Jennifer Sertl is a business strategist fostering better decisions, systems thinking, and scenario planning.   You can find her on twitter @agility3r

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