As community banks work through the challenges of new workplaces, communication, technology and even business development during the current crisis, it is increasingly important to focus on innovation.
Join Social Assurance’s CEO/Founder, Ben Pankonin as he hosts ICBA’s Senior VP/Chief Innovation officer, Charles Potts to discuss innovative tactics and strategies for
- Improving innovative culture
- Connecting with customers from a distance
- Implementing tools to foster team communication
- Pushing innovation while staying compassionate
Ben Pankonin 0:08
Welcome to another webinar this week we are going to be talking about innovating at a time of crisis. I’m been painting in CEO and co founder of social insurance and I am joined with Charles Potts today, we’ve got some icba representation. And you know, I’m excited because, you know, Charles has brought in a ridiculous amount of experience as innovation in the financial services space. And I’m excited because he’s going to bring a lot of industry knowledge at a time when I think we really need most in understanding how we approach the subject of innovation, right in the midst of a crisis and what better time to talk about it then that we’re We’re really desperate and really have to do this sort of innovation. So welcome, Charles, I’d love to hear from you a little bit. We’ve been talking and catching up on all things. Soccer, innovation. And a number of fun topics has been great getting to know you through this process, but also, to understand a little bit of your background, coming into icba, helping community banks to talk about innovation. I love to hear a little bit about your background, too.
Charles Potts 1:32
Sure. Thank you, Ben. And thank you very much for combining this, this opportunity to share some of these ideas with the industry and thank you everybody who is on and participating. I really appreciate that at this time, we can continue to stay engaged and do these things. Now. I think it’s critically important and it’s it’s a very important topic that’s near and dear To me, one of the things, you know, Ben that we’ve kind of chatted about is just really background and kind of how we got here. I’m very, very blessed in many ways that I while in school went to work for a bank. And was just happen to be that kid who knew how to play with technology was going to Georgia Tech. At a time when some really cool new technology was, was coming to life. The early days, I’m going to share my age here, the early days of PCs, really brought about to the banking industry a way for us to start looking, what I’ll just call distributed or departmental Li at how we could improve the things we were doing, whether it’s in the branch at the teller line, in the back office in many of our operational functions, and it was bad really intriguing time for me that that made me realize that technology can really move pretty quickly. And, and, and one of the things that really demonstrated that for me early on was, was taking some rather boring tours mundane exercises like figuring out how to value the residential real estate portfolios and securitize them and sell them into securities with Fannie or Freddie or Ginnie at the time. And that was a very labor intensive, mundane task of getting reports off of mainframes coming through files, building true cream bar reports and discovering The early days of spreadsheets on PCs we could build these little models that took what was a 10 man day process down to just a matter of minutes. And it was that that aha moment, you can kind of see that in the return key or the Enter key and see the calculations crunch through in microseconds, then nanoseconds now you see some results. And it just makes you realize that Moore’s law and all the other things you’ve lived with, is very real. And and in the technology and the innovation that comes from it is very important for banks of all sizes and shapes to stay on top of. Fast forward, I had a great opportunity to work with a number of technology companies being part of some early stage startup companies. Starting some of my own companies in part of some really cool teams and built some, some technology and companies and, and being part of a lot of the kind of main namesakes in the industry. And the Pfizer’s and jack Henry’s first status
is really that background of working in banking, working close with, with banks of all sizes, but particularly the community bank marketplace, building companies over the years and partnerships that afforded me the opportunity to look at a wide variety of innovation, startup companies, how they were doing things, how they were working, how they weren’t working. And kind of a an interesting, merging, if you will, a great intersection that the team at the icba was also thinking about our role in stimulating effects. Voting innovation and community bank marketplace and came together. And they handed me this really, really cool opportunity. And part of it is driven by our recognition. And I use this somewhat as my kind of my guiding hypothesis here, then 2020 we should take a why not approach? When we look at technology and innovation for the community bank space and community bank marketplace? Why shouldn’t community banks have all the tools services technology and capabilities of fintechs and large banks and other non bank service providers. And it is our mission and our challenge to find very purposeful we call it mission driven innovation. Very, very focused solutions that serve the members that we represent in the marketplace. pining away for banks to hand these capabilities and serve their customers. So that’s, you know, that really is the grounding principle by which we’ve created this, this innovation role. It’s allowed us to do a couple of things that I think you’re familiar with. We started a little startup accelerator program with the venture center in Little Rock, Arkansas. We just finished our second cohort that we run through the first 12 weeks of the year, we give those startup companies a chance to learn community banking, actually, in a very compressed time period over a 12 week process and pitch repeatedly, to community bankers. We run through some 50 plus banks through the program over that period of time. They all get one on one sessions. We truly Create very strong relationships coming out of the other end of that process that are very purposeful. They’re very grounded, the product market fit that these companies are looking for. It gets resolved and in this interaction and stuff that many of us learned took years to do. The the amount of customer discovery activity, we can now accelerate through this process in a matter of weeks. And it’s that idea that the markets moving fast opportunities come at us pretty quickly. that affords us this venue to find these types of innovations and solutions. And so when we reach these, these unfortunate crises, moments I think what you’re what you’re going to find is we we’ve created some awareness, we’ve created some knowledge throughout the, throughout our organization, throughout our executive leadership, throughout the banks that serve in our leadership functions, that innovation can be a very good partner, if you will, to help address some of these challenges that come at us like this. And hence, you know, the the idea behind this webinar. How does, how does this innovation thing, help address crises? Here we are, here we are doing some really cool things and really valuable activities, creating real valuable solutions and relationships on behalf of the community bank market that we serve.
Ben Pankonin 9:57
Well, I appreciate that Charles and you know, when I When I hear your background and what you’ve spent your time thinking about and doing and training both ends of, you know, startups, you know, at the venture center and everywhere else as well as, as banks, you’re really helping people to adjust to a shift, and sometimes a really rapid shift. So I wanted to share a little bit we did a poll, during your your intro to see, like, literally, where are you today? Right. 73% of the people that filled out that poll are working from home today. You know, we’ve never asked that question during a webinar before. But I would be really shocked if when we do a normal one, if that was ever 25% of people working from home attending our webinars, so we’re we’re certainly in the midst of a really dramatic shift right now. So I feels like a 4% of the people said they’re working elsewhere. I wish I would have opened that up so that people could fill in where else they’re working because I think now most curious about the 4% that aren’t at a bank and aren’t at Oh.
Charles Potts 11:05
Well, I can, I can tell you as a as a point of reference, I mean, one of the things I offer today is, you know, we still have, we still have people that have that have not been able to necessarily travel back to their homes, they were traveling there on vacation. And with all the different levels of quarantine and, and restrictions, I would not be surprised if people aren’t having to work in different in hotels as an example, so to speak. So, this is this is a I’m not surprised by that number. And that number speaks to, you know, probably the most critical issue facing bankers today and that is how do they do their job? Right. How do they do What has been their normal day to day job? In this new reality we’re addressing and for community banks, in particular, that is a unique challenge because one of the things that we know, and one of the things that’s important to the to the very fabric of community banks is the relationship they have in the community they serve. There, there, there is no doubt where you have a healthy community bank, you have a healthy community, you have a healthy set of businesses. And that oftentimes is a reflection of their physical presence, which is critically important. And so this this is probably at the top of the list of one of the big challenges the banks face, and where, you know, innovative new ideas, innovation in general can probably play In is playing a very important role in the dressing. Good benefit.
Ben Pankonin 13:05
Perfect, perfect. So a few housekeeping things. If you have questions, feel free to chat. During our control panel, we will be recording all of this. And this will be this will be available to you as well. You can also feel free to tweet to any of us. I’m seeing some Twitter traffic now. But we’ll try to make sure we address any questions there. We’ve got some questions as we as we kind of go through things. But Charles, you’ve got some things to walk through with us and really understanding how this set of innovation really helps you think more about your communications technology and business development through this process. So so I’ll kind of let you lead through lead through this and I’ve got a bunch of questions I’m going to filter through with banks, but it sounds like you have some really key items to share with us.
Charles Potts 14:00
Well I think one of the things is you and I were talking about putting this this webinar together and we talked about you know these challenges that we see here the the new workplaces the communication technology even even continuing with business development activities where where does innovation play a role what what is its importance i like i like a couple of the things will kind of skate by this this right here but smoothly and suppose boats Cornerstone i think it’s it’s it’s pretty important right now when you look at from a community bankers perspective holders coming in and in Believe me and they many I’m sure on this on this webinar know that they’re being bombarded with by a lot of vendors out there who all have any issue how to how to dress things. And I think Steve’s quote is, is very appropriate. It’s never been more important to stay alert, skeptical and objective. And, and I think this breaks down a couple of ways as we start talking about what innovation really is. And I think we have to, we have to kind of establish what innovation is before you really, you know, you really understand what it can do for you now, and I love using these definitions that I’ve taught them both internally at the icba and into startups that we’re working with, when we try to try to describe innovation. You know, often times it really is about creativity, new ideas, bringing things together. But the last quote there I found is actually one of my one of my all time favorites. I’m the co founder of MTV, described innovation is taking two things that exist and combining them in an way, right? The Video killed the radio star. I mean, the start of MTV, right? It’s, it’s video, and it’s music. they existed in and of themselves, but they found a new way to bring them together and create something different. And, and the idea of being alert, skeptical and objective, I think goes to the heart of that. Don’t be distracted by the shiny objects. There’s a lot of shiny objects out there. So be alert to the fact that innovation may be right there at your fingertips. It may be right there, in your bank, in the wheelhouse of services and solution providers, you have kind of start there, right kind of start at, at how do you take what you already have, and apply it in a new way. And I think that’s, you know, that’s a Great grounding, as banks really look at the challenges that are coming.
Ben Pankonin 17:07
Yeah, like you’re saying, I love what you’re saying there about that last quote, I’ve never heard this from MTV. But you know, I had to speak to a group of entrepreneurs and the thing that we defined as the term was juxtaposition, you know, if you put two things together, and we sort of said, Hey, you know, I’ve got this great idea what if we took your house and we rented it out like a hotel, right? Like, like, that was something not that long ago, we didn’t see is going together, but then it becomes innovation where we were able to figure out how they actually work together. So you know, thinking about mobile and thinking about banking at one point was not thought of as together and and then we put it together, or, you know, video and collaborate. I mean,
Charles Potts 17:56
yeah, I mean, look.
I think That’s pretty eye opening. I mean, Airbnb is the largest renter of hotel nights without owning any asset. I mean, it’s just, it’s staggering. They they found a way to put together two things, the demand for four nights and somebodies three bedroom and create something new, obviously the Ubers of the world, somebody’s got a car, somebody needs to go somewhere. Let me match them together. So, you know, when we when we think about this crisis time, I think one of the things and we kind of go to the next slide, we have to start with really communication. And, yeah, this is I think this is critically important for the community bank space I want to before digging into this and remind ourselves as I as I said earlier, you know, community banks enjoy a very important role in our economy, because of their physical presence in the community where local decisions are made and local is incredibly important to everything that is community banking. You know, two thirds of small business loans come from the community bank marketplace. community banks are small businesses, their core customers are small business in many ways. And so the local interactivity, the local presence, the local communication is so vital to actually dealing with not only day to day normal business activities, but obviously in a time of crisis. Local means everything is as you’ve noted, Hear, you know, you gotta you gotta listen to your customers. One of the things that that we’ve noticed over the last two weeks and a number of different seminars and sessions and workshops and things that icba and our partners have been involved with is, listen, really, really hear what your businesses are challenged by what your customers are challenged by what your own staff, employees and families are challenged, challenged by. Right? Be very, very driven from that perspective. You know, I like the opposite, the opposite, operational and being prepared and ready to serve. Constantly communicate and, and we’ll, we’ll chat a little about kind of some tactical aspects of this, but what nothing serves the community better than telling them what’s going on telling yourself, your employees, your family, but also your customers, and what’s going on, communicate, communicate constantly find different vehicles and different ways. And, you know, this is where a lot of the new technology and not loading innovation, you know, that expanded is coming at these banks in a fast way. But don’t forget you already have some existing things there. Right. Yeah. And I know you and I’ve talked about this.
Ben Pankonin 21:39
Yeah, no, you’re right. You know, there’s so many things that we already have in place. We kind of push this out on a webinar last week that was purely about communications to just say, Hey, if you’re looking for like a plan, and you need to communicate the plan, internally think, you know, this may be a tool that you can use to, to sort of outline those things to say hey, team, we We’ll get some communication strategy. Like, here’s the here’s the, you know, five points that we want to put together. So we, you know that those webinars are all available if you need to use that. But you you answered actually a question that we had in from Kelly at progressive bank. And so I wanted to, I wanted to reiterate it because you just get it. So the, the question that she had was, what are ways to communicate internally and externally, but but how do we do this in a way that is not tone deaf, during the covid fears to our employees? And I heard you say that, you know, that listen first, but maybe you want to help with that. Yeah.
Charles Potts 22:42
So here’s, here’s, here’s one of the things I experienced personally, with the number of key banks that I’ve worked with, before. There, there has always been, you know, a good interaction between The customers in the banks, right? I mean, the The fact is a lot of community banks have served as community centers for many activities that have taken place in their communities. And there is a particular bank in in Southwest Texas that I worked with a number of years ago. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they had a community room that served coffee in the morning when the farmers and the businessmen were getting up and moving around, and they could discuss everything from commodities future to the weather, to what was going on. So they had already established their presence as being an important communication vehicle, in their community. Well, my goodness, that is that is actually absolutely one of the key assets that a community bank has. So now find a way to use modern communication technology, right? whether whether you’re setting up a Facebook page, I mean, first of all, you know, do all of the things that you have at your fingertips, right? Make sure your websites are updated. Make sure your message on hold, if you got telephone banking, make sure your messages have been updated to reflect new correct information. Some people are kind of forgetting and missing that you got a building digital sign outside your main office, it has the capability to be updated, you know, use the things you already have in a new way to communicate this message, but then replicate, you know, through some of these, these new tools and capabilities tools you already have, like, like Facebook, you know, I wish the community room. I heard a banker Tell me yesterday that They think it’s a great idea for them to shut up. And I’ll say in kind of air quotes, their own coffee clocks, their own coffee time with the maker, giving them a chance to talk to you. Give them a chance to be heard. Mind find all of those different ways that you have accessible to create what is naturally you know, your strength and that’s being in the community, integrating with community and being a good vehicle to to kind of be the the hub if you will reveal the hub on the wheel, if you will,
to disseminate a lot of what’s going on.
Ben Pankonin 25:48
Cool, I love that. I love that idea of taking what you’ve what people know you to be. And it’s kind of brick building we always talk about juxtaposition creates some of the best content you’ll ever have. So you can have, you know, the Hey, we normally gathered at the bank to have coffee. And you know if you can have the person who sort of held that on and you say, well, well now we’re gonna do this remotely and we’re gonna have the, you know, 80 year old farmer and we’re gonna, like find a way to capture that. I think that’s just gonna be something people remember.
Charles Potts 26:21
Yeah, it looks. And many of us are hearing stories of people hosting of their own kind of virtual cocktail parties. Right? Well, yeah, that that’s that, you know, why why not have the bank be the center of that in their community? And host these things. I also like the the assisting I you know, I we’ve all seen great stories, and we all love the way that our communities come together in a time of crisis. I call it kind of the virtual sandbag You know, this is like the flooding that takes place in the, you know, along the river states. And we’re all rolling up our sleeves and we’re all getting out to put in the sandbags and put them out and fill them up. This this is this is a way for you to also create this kind of sandbagging around your community. You know, you’re, you’re the center of stability and strength in the community and, and community banks, I think, have a great, great leg up to demonstrate that. And again, you can you can kind of steal those ideas that you did, physically, and find these virtual tools that you have that can kind of replicate that behavior.
Ben Pankonin 27:47
Yeah, I appreciate that. I think that that ability to assist is critical. And you know, one of the things that we’re we’re talking about and I’ve had some questions about internal communication which I is really critical. You know, I want to highlight a little bit of shout out to a lot of the bankers who are working overtime right now I actually texted my banker we started with a loan from a community bank and and so I texted Matt, this morning it was it’s his birthday today. And of course, he’s listening to small business after small business, you know, all day, and I know, some of the challenges he’s dealing with. I texted him and told him I’d be washing my hands and singing happy birthday to him all day.
but but you know, when we think about that assisting and learning perspective, I think it’s also critical as we’re communicating this that, that we don’t necessarily have it all figured out right like that. We’re in this sort of fight with you. And I think that’s why I’m really excited to talk more about the innovation and culture side because being a little vulnerable, And saying, Hey, we’re trying to learn how to serve you better help us help us to serve, you better get that just little small amount of vulnerability to say, we don’t know the best way to communicate yet. But we’re trying to figure this out, I think is one of those areas where we’ve seen a lot of great communication from banks already. So I appreciate that. And I know you’ve got
Charles Potts 29:23
your spot on. Yeah, I mean, it’s not on and when one of the, you know, one of the things I’ll speak up for the icba here, because we have a very important role in this and, you know, we have on our own icba website, you know, a great repository of information there, that all the bankers can go to, we got a crisis preparedness site, that we’re constantly updating with a lot of this information, a lot of these things Sources email@example.com under our news section, you can see a lot of these, these things that that banks are sharing with us from all over the country. Our vendors or partners, who have critical tools that a lot of the banks already have in place, that they’re, they’re able to identify, again, these kind of innovative ways. These are, these are capabilities the banks may already have, kind of think through the, the web presence, the mobile banking, the digital banking, all those things, but it’s also things like, you know, you talk about originating loans, some people business needs to still go on. So how can you continue to support that process and in being attentive to the needs of your, of your customers? Again, there’s a lot of those tools and capabilities We also,
find it very important. When we talk about culture. We talk about these really shared characteristics that we as community bankers, and we as the people that support and promote the strength of community bank marketplace. We We remind ourselves and our community about those strong ties, about that strong culture and how we’re going to leverage it. You know, we, we, we know that can be banks respect and honor their community ties, that that’s critical to them. You know, this is where we’re lending and deposit activity takes place where people live and work and that’s, that’s helping these local economies thrive. So it’s important that 3d banks embrace and continue to remind themselves and their community of that aspect of their cold culture. You know, the relationships they have with small businesses, the things that they can provide for those small businesses, I think goes to the heart of again, promoting this culture that is critically important to the community. And as I said, there’s a there’s a wealth of resources along those lines. But I think this this topic, you know, gets into a little bit of how innovation and this culture of innovation as the bank’s embrace it more, more
provides a way for you to respond quicker, because that’s really what underlies a lot of this. So when we talk about kind of lessons learned in innovation, and how innovation can support times of crisis, one of the things that that I draw upon is just what startup companies have to deal with. Right What a start up you know, as to learn handsome so we’re, you know, we, we want a great resource I think any bank can grab a hold of and read Eric Reese’s Lean Startup book. There’s a lot of great lessons in there, that banks can take upon themselves in learn from it, right? What we kind of call a fast fail, I have no idea. So, you know, those, those, that that’s a that’s a great way to help improve how quickly and effectively a bank can respond at a time of crisis, if you’re creating a culture of innovation, part of the foundation of that is eliminating uncertainty. working smarter, not harder. Right kind of developing, you know, in the, in the 10 of tech world, we call about developing your own MVP, your minimum viable product. So that that’s what is a measure of success, staying focused there. And then your validation, build, build, measure, learn. Those, those are critically important lessons to embrace as you’re dealing with crisis, right. And then, you know, you obviously, building your own startup business, you’re having to live this as well.
Ben Pankonin 34:45
Yeah, you know, I think one of the things you mentioned was sort of learning how to fail and have permission in that but also, you know, understanding where you can fail and where you can’t, right. So like my next door neighbor, who really busy right now is a ER doctor. And, you know, he asked me years ago, well, how do you sort of like, move this quickly on these things? And I said, you know, Rob, like, I’m not testing, you know, things on people, you know, I’m not, you know, giving them drugs are things that would that would kill a person, right? Like, like my ability to test is limited in a marketing test, right. Like, when I say I might fail, like, I’ll probably fail today at something. But, you know, it might be that we placed an ad, and we placed two ads and one of them completely failed, didn’t spend any money on a social media project. And the other one did, right. And and we sort of learned from that really quickly. So there I think one of the things we have a misperception sometimes we hear failure, like when I even heard you say fail fast and like, Ah, you know, we’ve got this mentality that Zuckerberg gave us that said, you know, move fast and break stuff and you know, there’s a There’s some times where, where you kind of want to test that. But once we push something out into production, we’re not advocating that you mess with your payments process. And
you know, and have an opportunity to fail you have no opportunity to fail during a payment.
Charles Potts 36:19
Right? And that’s, that’s where it needs as we call it, strategic contents, right. So part of the importance of innovation, and where it gets magnified at a crisis moment is is how well you’re communicating or educating all levels of your organization. So when you when you do that internally, when you focus on properly educating, setting expectations, you pair it with really precise and concise actions. Then you can you can minimize the lead Then Zuckerberg idea of you know, fail fast and Blake’s and your your you want to fail fast at things that that aren’t going to be, you know, threatening. But it has to come with context. And doing that internally. And I guess this is the real real point that we want to elaborate here. If you’re, if you’re doing that and you’re using those things internally, that gives you good guidance on how you can externalize. Right use, use your own employees, your use your own resources internally, to, to research, rehearse, practice on and then move quickly to make sure to your customers, you’re delivering these capabilities and shoring up what your community needs. And that’s that helps you as we say, develop your responses right. You develop The way you’re going to innovate and respond, because you created really this, this, this educational level inside your organization that everybody’s on board, everybody understands what you’re doing. So it becomes much easier to support innovation, if you will. Yeah. And then I like the idea of quick wins, right? Because that’s what your community is looking for. you’re implying find a low hanging fruit. Do something quickly, because that creates credibility and stability and adaptability.
Ben Pankonin 38:40
I love that. And, you know, I think we’ve been focused on some of those, you know, quick wins of, for our team and for our community, right. Some of you saw on Twitter, we announced it or my facebook or something, you know, we we launched out a store to help support food banks. Because, you know, we’ve sort of had this phrase of You know, be social at a distance. And we’ve sort of said, Well, how do we use that to support other people, so you can go buy some swag there, you know, goes to food banks anyway. But you know, one of the things that’s fun about doing those is it pushes our team and it pushes our community to be able to talk about something that’s positive in a moment like this. And so I’ve seen some banks do that really well, when you said find those small wins, where they’re saying, hey, it could be my friend Nick on Twitter, who runs the one of the food trucks here in town, who sold out this past week, because, you know, he just changed his business model in a hurry and said, nobody’s going to come find me at a food truck. I’m gonna start doing family meals, and he literally booked out his entire week, all of his production. He’s having literally his best sales weeks ever. Because he’s flipped his business model that quickly, and I think like the local bank should be posting about that. I haven’t seen any of them yet, but they should be posting about how do we flip that really quick and share that really positive story to help inspire others Really?
Charles Potts 40:12
Well, and I think that’s a kind of following that thread and here’s, here’s, here’s how I see a key bank could could absolutely flourish and and truly benefit their community. If we go back to the notion that a lot of these community banks have had kind of this community presence and thing about the community coffee, right. Well, that that evolves to a couple of things. Can you become a clearinghouse? We’re seeing, we’re seeing different service companies. And I’m in I’m in Atlanta and I’ve got a I’ve got a burrito shop that is now selling produce, because they get deliveries from their produce vendors. They get supplies from their suppliers. And now they can become the central hub to help supply a certain discrete, you know, produce and goods and services. Well, there’s a there’s a corollary there, you know, for a community bank, are there people in your community that are able to do that and more importantly, can you become a central repository of that knowledge? You know, one of the things I’m hearing in a lot of different cities that are going on these different levels of lockdowns and quarantines is, you know, what’s truly fully quarantine who’s still doing take out service. Well, nobody is doing a really good job of creating a clearinghouse for that. Well, you got a banker, you know, you got a website, you should have a Facebook page, you got all these businesses that you serve, be that central repository, be that central go to source in your community, for you know, for those those services. That can benefit benefit everybody. I mean, you got a you got a great opportunity to leverage your your invest in relationship and an add on to it. It’s just it’s just little things like you know what times our stores or or restaurants open for takeaway food service or drive up food service do that on behalf of your community and your community partners and you got a wide variety of community partners. I saw the storm this morning. You know a lot of the a lot of cities were the there are these now studio. Either peloton like cycling studios or rowing studios. They’re now delivering equipment to people’s homes. They’re going to rent it out and deliver it to their home. Well, you know, is there a way for the bank to actually again be that Clearing House and and promote it promote those capabilities you kind of said I think is something worth pointing out to a lot of the bankers you’re all having to adjust hours you’re all having to figure out if you’re going to keep lobbies open if you’re not if you’re going to keep drive throughs open if you’re if you’re not you know we often talk about think outside the box I heard a speaker and I’m kind of turning it around when thinking think inside the box when we were kids and we get the cardboard box and turn it into a magical spaceship. Think about the inside the box how you can reimagine This is innovation take things that exist and and use them in a new way. Do you need to alter your hours? Do you need to change your shifts? You know do you need to provide Can you provide some overlapping open earlier open later Because you’ve got activities going on in your community. So that’s that. That’s social innovation, right? you’re providing something beyond the normal nine to five. We’re reconfiguring existing resources to support me or make you live in a community that’s got a lot of hospital workers. Then you’re near a university hospital as an example. Well, most people, those people can’t get to U turn the normal business hours. Right? They need alternatives. So this is this is a, this is being responsive. It’s a quick win. It’s a it’s an easy way for you to maximize and reuse and repackage and reimagine existing services that you have.
Ben Pankonin 44:53
Yeah, I appreciate that. You have some some good analogies for delivering on innovative culture. which I think are great. We had a question actually from my friend Stephanie at access bank, she I know she just took a good trip with her family too. But I hope she says, How do I engage employees when everyone’s working from home? Right, like, we’ve now really shifted this model. You know, we’ve got some tactics. We were a hybrid company. So you know, some people work from home on a regular basis. And some people work at the office, which is really helpful to us in this process. Those people working from home every day, and so that’s, yeah, that’s me. But and I know, you know, icba kind of has that methodology. So
Charles Potts 45:44
yeah, so absolutely. We, prior to this, we just got off of one of our weekly town halls. So organizationally, we have instituted a town hall is you know, it has a little bit of structure to it with There’s some important messaging. And there’s there’s the ability for us to share, you know, best practices. Because again, to your point, and I’m sure a lot of people aren’t used to working at home. So there there are, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of best practices. Again, I’ll point to the the icba website under our new section we have, we have a number of best practices there for for working at home. But it’s it’s little things like again, this, this concept of a community room or row coffee cloche, right, get the current create a time that you can have coffee together before the workday gets going or a coffee break at the right time. And whether using you can use any number of the kind of web based tools right zoom or WebEx or go to or Microsoft teams that you can create these kind of virtualized interactions. You can also set up different, you know, kind of just say niche interests. We just, we just set up inside Microsoft Teams, a whole set of teams around cooking at home. Or a lot of people are cooking at home more than they have did exercise at home. So setting up all these discrete info, books and movies and you know, sharing what everybody’s binge watching on after hours, so that that that structure to some extent, kind of repeatable events. I saw I saw one group calls it the coffee cooler, and then they kind of mixing the water cooler and the coffee bought together so that their employees come together in this kind of change. Add space and I think to Stephanie’s question. You’re trying to find ways in this virtual world to use tools you have to mimic interpersonal connections. And a lot of it is time shifting. Also, one of the things I pointed out that I heard this week, because a number of people are recognizing as they’re going into the zoom meetings and all these different webinars, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of bandwidth issues in certain places. Start your meetings at odd times. Don’t start at the top of the hour at the bottom of the hour, because that’s typically the bottlenecks for most networks. When people are launching their meetings, their webinars, started five minutes after the hour, seven minutes after the hour, stop started different times and it also because a lot of us are doing back to back to back meetings into time for that bio break. You need a time to get up from your desk, get up in your chair. Stretch your legs. So think about creative, innovative ways to stay engaged, but add some flexibility to it so that you address know the different kind of work our work elements to it.
Ben Pankonin 49:16
I know I appreciate that. And, you know, we’ve we’ve tried to employ a few of those I shared, you know, some of the things that employees not just because they’re remote now, but because there’s also a lot of stress in the world going on right now. And so, one of the things we started implementing in, you know, our weekly standup was, what was one thing that encouraged you this past week? And so we’re all of our teams are kind of separate that question, you know, what’s, what’s the one thing that’s encouraged you this past week, because sometimes we’re just looking for good news. And we’ve had people say, Hey, here’s professionally what happened or here’s personally and then we then we also asked, What’s one thing way that we can support you or the community at this time?
Charles Potts 50:04
Well, you just, you just, you just gave everybody a really good tidbit into into a term that many of us who have worked in tech companies take for granted. And this is something that the banks can the bankers out there can apply in this what we call stand up meetings, right? The part of the Lean Startup philosophy, the just in time, the Japanese term is Khan bond is having these 12 to 15 minute meetings in the morning. You’re keeping them short, they’re brief, but you’re, you’re you’re really telling people what you worked on yesterday, what you’re working on today, and what impediments you may proceed in front of you. Because this is really the importance of having these types of ongoing consistent kind of programmatic Communication is letting everybody else in the organization, understand what barriers, what impediments, what restrictions, you’re finding from one day to the next may prevent you from servicing your customers the best way possible. And so implementing what we call in the tech world stand up meeting every morning is a great way to attack that for the bankers out there.
Ben Pankonin 51:26
Yeah, well, you pointed to this, this importance of the time or the water cooler time. I think that’s really critical. I’m waiting for my new be social at a distance mug quick plug for you. But really, what I’m what I’m waiting for is to, you know, when we were at the bank all working together, I can walk by you and I could say, Oh, hey, you know what, Charles, his demeanor and everything about him indicates that he’s having a good day. Now, when you jump into calls and you do this sort of separation, I don’t have that ability to check in and know how you’re doing today. And which is a critical way for us to collaborate, if I don’t know those things. And so we’re actually, you know, developing some features just for that, because we’re saying, hey, there’s some things to check in on employees and have some positive reinforcement that I think are just critical in who we are as humans.
Charles Potts 52:30
Yeah, absolutely. And I think part of, again, part of the challenge with working at home and again, people can find a lot of these resources but but I’ll repeat some of the, I think more critical ones is it’s time management. So so using the calendaring tools using email very efficiently, taking the time to to teach and reinforce With the employees in the bank, good ways to use these things, so that you stay connected, you stay focused, you stay on message, you stay on mission, because that’s also one of the most important things around innovation and especially at a time of crisis is it is creating awareness and accountability, making sure everybody’s working kind of on a common goal. And if I can’t just drop by your desk to check in on you, it becomes a little more difficult to do that. So organizational practices organizational behavior. It gets challenged this way, as we’re looking at doing these things remotely and in a distance fashion. So, so, part of creating that innovative culture at a time of crisis is actually grounded in reinforcing some organizational practice. And behaviors that that truly help us stay focused and on mission here.
Ben Pankonin 54:06
Yeah, I know you’ve got some really good content in here about, you know, looking to improve innovative ideas and sharing a lot of information. Yeah, I think it’s really an opportunity right now for a lot of us to to rethink the most important parts of our business too. So,
Charles Potts 54:26
yeah, I mean, oh, you know, a lot of our organizations, I mean, we’ve historically had the ideas box, right, where you, you see something you think of something, you write it up and you drop it in a box and, and somebody somewhere else may be responsible for disseminating that. And in today’s world, and especially for bankers, you know, innovation is really everybody’s opportunity to contribute. Everybody plays a role in it and at a time like this, you know, You want to you want to enlist and elicit more, more of that interaction. So, you know, this is this is the challenge of, I can’t truly do it in an impersonal way, unless you can come up with with kind of an anonymous and there are some, you know, anonymous messaging type solutions. But, you know, I can’t just write up my idea and drop it in a box and nobody knows that it was me. You want to get people engaged in innovation and you want to, you want to be able to turn that around and externally do this with your customers as well. Right. So you’re, again, as we said earlier, not only are you just updating all your digital and self help solutions, and I discovered yesterday, you know, a number of people are forgetting their ATMs. They’re forgetting They’ve got a great messaging capability there in their ATMs. So as you’re thinking about innovation, you’re thinking about new ways to do things. Don’t forget, you have all these different channels and resources and solutions that are out there.
where I read this, but a lot of a lot of banks have marketing campaigns that are, that are kind of on autopilot need to somebody needs to go take a look at what’s happening there. And make sure that somebody is not getting bombarded with the solicitation for a trip abroad, so to speak, right. But but the thinking about how you’re communicating externally, you know, I, I also put him back to this kind of community space, in again being this this this central hub For your community as we think about connecting with customers, you know, address some of these things, both internally, you know, like food and movies and exercise and do it externally as well should find a way to share that information. You know, again, you got a, you may have a good restaurant tour in your community, that’s a customer of the bank. I’ve got a restaurant with at six o’clock every night. He’s doing a he’s doing a cooking show on Facebook. right down the street from me in his house. Well, the community bank can be supporting, promoting, again, you’re listening that the yoga exercise classes that are big word online. And I, I, I say this, because we often forget what we’re thinking about doing externally. For our customers and our community, we need to do internally for employees and our families. So finding a time and a place to gather, finding a way to share important information, keeping people connected, is again one of the central strengths of the community bank. At this this time,
Ben Pankonin 58:22
yeah, I really appreciate that. We had some questions in about communication. And, you know, one of those that I’ve brought up sometimes before is when we’re putting together communication about who we are and where we come from. I pulled this from a while ago to say, a lot of times we communicate about the amount of time and how big we are. Now’s not the time to do that. You know, it’s, it’s the time to say, you know, if I was Samsonite in here to say, hey, Our products have been dropped more than anybody else’s we’ve experienced that would be this would be the time to say, you know, over the past hundred years, no one’s luggage has been dropped more than ours. Like, that’s the time to say, hey, when we’re vulnerable about it and say we’ve been through some stuff, like, this is the time to say that and really be explicit about it. So I compare that to the way a startup would message is they would say, and this is literally the text from away luggage is about page. So they’re not talking about how long they’ve been in business, nobody cares. They’ve only been in business a couple years, but they’re talking about where we are and where we’re going to go together. And so I think it’s a way for us to really shift that communication strategy.
Charles Potts 59:49
I totally agree. I think I think very consistent communication, open, sharing what’s going on, we’re finding a way to Educate your community in your market on what’s happening in the way you see it. And again, these banks sit in a really good place where they got a lot of information available to them that the common users or small businesses in their community don’t have. So they can they can be, they can be very, very important and instrumental in in creating that calming effect in their community. And, and kind of lead with this idea that, that I love from Thomas Edison. He teaches us that the value of an idea lies in using so buying these ideas, share them, use them, take taken take an opportunity to explore them. There’s a there’s a number of things these bankers are really good at and their community is are looking to them. To bring that strength and stability at this, this time of crisis, and finding innovative ways to do that, I think is is critically important right now.
Ben Pankonin 1:01:10
Hmm. Well, that I think that’s a great quote to really leave people with is that it is about doing it. Dr. Charles, it’s been great to get to know you a little bit more and your passion for innovation and community banking. I left some contact info here. If people want to reach out to you or to me, we’ve got a series of webinars next week, we’re doing one on sales with sensitivity because right now just communicating even that we have a loan to help people is sometimes perceived as opportunistic and we want to make sure that we’re, we’re displaying that communication with compassion. And following that we’ve got another webinar scheduled for for really mental health in banking. So, Charles, anything else I know icba has a ton of resources out there. there anything you’d like to share on that?
Charles Potts 1:02:03
Yeah, so I see va.org. And under our news section, you’ll see, you’ll see a page called crisis preparedness. We have a whole bunch of information for the bank’s information that they can share with their communities, from a lot of our service partners, pervert service partners and vendors that we work with solutions and capabilities that are very important to the banking industry right now. It is constantly updating. We’re constantly sharing this, we get a lot of feedback, obviously from the banks that we serve in our membership. So please taken advantage of that. You got our contact information. Yeah, we we are here to make sure the community banks have a voice and, and are actively being supported in all things that are important right now at this time.
Ben Pankonin 1:02:57
Well, thanks again, Charles. Really pretty Share your time today and expertise. We’ll all stay in touch in to borrow from that slogan. Again. We’ll be social at a distance together. So thanks, Charles.
Charles Potts 1:03:11
Thank you so much, Ben. Thank you everybody who’s on the call today. I appreciate the support. Thank you, Ben.