HELSINKI – During the summer, Nordea’s Business Innovation Unit ran a pop-up innovation lab with five students with varying academic backgrounds. The team was given a problem each Monday which they worked on using Google’s Sprint process and tasked to have a tested prototype ready by each Friday. The initial six week program was extended by two additional weeks due to the extensive interest it received.
The cases were taken from the area of transaction banking where we foresee significant disruption in the upcoming future, such as credit card solutions, working capital management, open banking and PSD2, and digital insurances. In addition, a sprint for TicketMaster, a customer of Nordea, was run where the concept of virtual reality access to live events was tested.
The program had a few key goals that were met over the eight weeks:
• Drive rapid innovation: After each week, the experiences were the same - the area of Nordea exposed to the sprint reported accelerated development and an influx of fresh views that challenged the status quo. Most importantly, learnings from each sprint are integrated in the products and solutions that are being developed.
• Test Google’s sprint methodology: Many think tanks and service design studios have been using similar methodologies in their work for some time, but for banks this is still relatively new. By running the program, we validated the benefits of a rapid prototyping methodology and discover potential stumbling blocks. A key learning was that the intensity of the process is draining – running Sprints week after week takes a toll and cannot be sustained indefinitely with good results. Also, the importance of preparation for each week cannot be understated, all time invested in preparation pays off during the sprint.
• Expose young minds to Nordea and banking: The feedback from the students was fairly aligned. Sifo Luo, one of the students, commented: “I learnt so much about banking services for corporate customers. This project got me interested to work in banking on digital transformation areas”.
Heikki Härkönen, Head of Business Development within Business Innovation at Nordea, commented on the experience: “The eight weeks were extremely interesting and inspirational. I was amazed how fast the student team was able to attack each of the sprint problems and I think they had a lot of fun doing it. Also, everyone that took part in the sprints described the experience as extremely energising. We still need to dig into the some of the results after the summer, but based on the feedback and experience, we will definitely do this again next summer.”
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