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The artistic quality of hyphenated adjectives is that one can describe almost anything. In banking, one needs hyphenated adjectives to survive. After all, banking – and bankers – don’t exude carnivalesque excitement. And concentration risk competes, on a permanent basis, with compliance risk for the most-weighty-risk-category award. That said, concentration risk tends to send shivers down the spines of executives everywhere. Too much of a good thing or a bad thing creates risk. Lack-of-concentration risk rivals a three-alarm fire in any downtown neighborhood, in any banking ecosystem. And yet it’s a subtle concept to explain and to mitigate. What is this new viruscrowding out planning and preparation? What peril lurks if it remains ensconced in your financial institution?
“Digital transformation stretches creative thinking, requires maximum energy and intellect, and demands an openness to chaos.”
Lack-of-concentration risk is the risk that evolves from not having focus, not having that single-pointed drive and determination. As nominally curious creatures, humans swerve and shimmy to find the next big thing, the future profitable enterprise. Bankers, although unusual, find themselves neither to be swervers or, ahem, shimmiers. This means the path to perfection, digital perfection precisely, eludes us. And as with most instances of human imperfection, fixing said defect takes time, requires the moving of mountains, and follows the recasting of cultures. How does an institution, sometimes one that is generations in the making, redefine itself and maintain focus, thereby reducing lack-of concentration risk? Cue the drum roll! Sound the trumpets! Unfurl the list, please!
The term engagement, well-worn these days, doesn’t have anything to do with tchotchkes or after parties. Commitment means work and more work. It is, after all, the reason we are at our respective institutions.Serving customers and colleagues who serve customers eclipses all other forms of engagement. In the digital context, where bankers find themselves behind other industries and others within their sector, commitment remains job one. As projects and programs go, inducing participation in the midst of hours and days of meetings (be it a waterfall or agile approach) keeps project folk up at night. It is complicated. Outside of everyday human resource commitments of PTO, training, and weekly sit-downs, teams must avail themselves to the work of digital transformation. And don’t forget the day job. That’s right. Resources have day jobs replete with competing priorities that keep them from concentrating on the digital shift.
Is engagement (a.k.a., work) fun? It can be. Indeed, it should be. If the team is not having fun, is not engaged in the work, then no other antidote will reverse the situation. Focus on the work for the sake of the work and to realize digital ambition.
Again and again. Say it, do it, and be it. Again and again. As the second component needed to mitigate lack-of-concentration risk, repetition is the simple one. At every turn, every company meeting, and every chance encounter with a colleague repeat the mantra: it’s all about digital relevance and excellence. Being the best digital player in a market, as defined by or for your institution, demands repetition at all levels of the organization. These reminders will decrease lack-of-concentration risk. It will not do it alone. One must have an engaged team. One must communicate and execute every day, week, and month as the digital program advances and then enters the maintenance/innovation stage. Throughout this process, individuals and teams must continue the refrain, beat the drum.
Project management folks love to create plans. One significant plan within the overall project management plan is the communications management plan. How will we communicate? To whom? How often? What? That’s the thrust of this section. The what. And it’s very simple. The what is the work, the engagement, and the repetition. What action do we need to accomplish to lift digital transformation and sustain it? Often companies neglect this aspect of the communications stream. We focus instead on launches and changes and delays. They are all worthy. Settle on the what. Digital transformation stretches creative thinking, requires maximum energy and intellect, and demands an openness to chaos. In the middle of all this, communications galvanize focus and lessen lack-of-concentration risk.
Humans, those interactive creatures, regaling us with their banter and sidebars, love a good show, a stirring performance. They love winners. They pay attention to winners. That’s what senior managers and boards want. Concentrate on that which matters most. In a world of boundless opportunity, digital banking, and its ensuing nirvana/cache is a self-propelling prophecy when concentration supersedes all other activities. Execution begets whimsy and fascination, which begets engagement, which begets more execution. Again and again.
The mitigation of lack-of-concentration risk should be one of the top enablers for financial institutions. Bring focus to the ambition of digital banking. This ambition is the broadening of distribution channels for customers. It deserves our attention.