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Hayden McDonnell Manager of Lab at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

I am a co-worker. Working from the Synergize Hub coworking space in Bendigo.

Synergize Hub is a collective of people who contribute to the running of the space & this month I have the honour of curating a breakfast leaders round table talking Innovation and Coworking in Central Victoria.

Hayden McDonnell from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is just one of the panel speakers who I recently asked – ‘how does creativity grow business?’ –  as a teaser in the lead up to the event.

Innovating Rapidly

He has some great insights into how a large organisation can consider connecting with initiatives that are fast pace and innovating rapidly.

Hayden is responsible for bringing customer and innovation closer together by establishing Labs – a place for any part of the business to test new business models, new products, and enhanced customer experiences. Since commencing in this role in late 2016, Hayden has become a student of Human Centred Design and is interested to understand what role a bank can play in the world of start-ups and small business incubators.

Of course the first question I ask Hayden is…

T: How does creativity grow business?

H: Creativity, is thinking differently.

It is a skill that has not come naturally to me—I have had to teach myself.

In a large organisation, you can get channelled into a process and a way of doing things. Unless you have leaders that challenge you and allow you to expand your mind, then that allowance for creativity can be stifled.

Creativity is thinking differently.

In growing our business, we’ve been encouraged by our Executive team to explore partnerships, new ideas, and to ensure people have autonomy to have a look at how others are doing business. The prospect of shared value is only going to grow stronger.

This approach just makes sense when you think about how corporate culture is changing and adjusting; we are seeing a rise with Start-ups in the Fintech space (there are greater than 600 Fintechs registered in Australia) so you have to adjust.

Our Community Bank® model is a classic example; it’s helped us broaden our national footprint and established a real point of difference that no other bank has in the marketplace. It puts us in a great position to keep thinking creatively and listen to the communities we operate in.

T: How did you teach yourself creative thinking?

H: I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some great leaders within our organisation who have encouraged this. My background is in sales coaching and customer engagement. To be successful in this, you have to keep thinking creatively to keep people engaged and connected to what you do. You don’t always do the talking, you need to do a lot of listening.

T: Do you have a daily practice to be creative?

H: In my role, I have new things coming at me all the time. I’m constantly thinking about “how we can practically apply this for our customers, and if we were to apply this idea, what is the go-to market strategy more broadly?”

Testing and learning is a big part of why Labs was established in our organisation. What we think our customers might want may not actually be the case. Getting early customer feedback and iterating on that will help us greatly. We’re seeing different parts of our organisation doing this already – particularly in a digital space, so it’s exciting to think of what we can do next in a physical sense through our branch network.

Inside our business, we’re starting to see the application of a more agile way of working, as well as utilising lean start up principles and Design Thinking. Appling these helping us all in having a creative mindset.

T: Why is a bank interested in coworking?

H: Our Community Bank® partners lean on us for help to make their community prosper. They want to grow their businesses so they can do great things in their community, and we’re now seeing our partners exploring co-working spaces as an opportunity to connect better with their business community.

Connect-Better

We want to become the bank of choice for people in small business, so it just makes sense for us to connect and understand what is happening in coworking spaces and get a feel for the start-up community.

We should be finding out how we can help? What drives and motivates people in a start up? What are their pain points? And what could we as a bank do to help? What might a partnership look like? Does that partnership have to be financial?

I don’t know what the answers are, but it’d be great to find out!

If there is something that the Bank can do for start-up communities, it should be mutually beneficial.

T: How does Design Thinking work in a Bank?

H: Design is a great way to solve large complex problems that may result in an improved benefit for customers and/or staff. It’s still a ‘new thing’ for our business and what it’s doing is encouraging collaboration, challenging our thinking, and allowing us to be more creative. I can see design playing a significant role to help our customers in the future. Banking is more about experience now. Gone are the days where it’s just about products and services – it has to be personalised and relevant.

Innovation and Coworking Bendigo Round Table

Register for Coworking and Innovation Bendigo Leaders Roundtable, taking place on Friday the 8th of September 8am at Synergize Hub.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses (including a number of start ups) to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

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