Back in January, long before margins compressed, rates rose meteorically, and the market went to hell in a handbasket, I wrote several blogs about the need to be innovative now, what innovation means, and the need for companies to embrace that mindset because the cost of missed innovation is too steep!
Fast forward ten months, and our industry finds itself mired in layoffs, companies closing doors overnight, and rampant talk of mergers & acquisitions. Over every digital and social media platform, we read about the need to cut expenses, to increase efficiency & productivity, to examine our customer retention strategies and tech adoption outcomes – all in the hopes of protecting the bottom line. No, I did not have a crystal ball back in January – but I knew then, sure as I know now – that we have to continue to evolve, that whatever crossroad we find ourselves to be at, one thing is for certain: we cannot stand still! We have to innovate, and we have to leverage technology and data to solve for challenges we see and those we cannot see yet. We must have a strategy and a plan, for as Benjamin Franklin once warned, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
In the first blog, I asked the question, “how do you lead your organization during an economic downturn so it can weather this storm?” Honestly, there is no simple answer – because each organization is unique, founded by its core values and shaped by its culture and its people. But whether you are leading an organization, a department, or yourself, at the heart of the matter, you need to identify the four elements, defined by the GROW framework, that are key to your longevity, your growth, and your success:
G – what are your goals?
R – what is the reality of your situation?
O – what options are available to you?
W – what are you willing to do to achieve your goals?
This is the time to be honest and transparent about what’s happening and what steps you are taking to help your organization, your department, and yourself weather this storm. While things are slower, your organization has the capacity – the time and the resources – to focus on transforming the business, sometimes one small step at a time, starting now, because now is the time to invest in your company’s future and now is the time to innovate, to be different, and to support those who have been there for you – your employees and your customers.
So, what does that look like?
Focus on your vision – recognize the opportunities rather than the obstacles and challenges that stand in your way.
Focus on the people – realize that transformation starts with people
Focus on your business growth – harness technology and innovation to transform every aspect of your business and to differentiate yourself.
Once your focus is set, it’s time to examine the components of incremental and sustainable transformation and to leverage the business model canvas – two frameworks that encapsulate the essence transformation and innovation.
At BlackFin, we are your partners in this journey. We understand that adapting your organization to the changes that continue to impact our industry is not an easy matter and we are ready to help. We recognize that transformation cannot be achieved overnight – rather, it is a consistent and methodical process, and we are ready to partner with you and help you build the appropriate strategy for YOUR organization. With the right roadmap, the appropriate guardrails for the present, and accelerants for the future, you can successfully traverse the rugged terrain ahead and become more agile now, and in the future.
Suha Beidas Zehl is the Chief Innovation Officer for BlackFin Group. In her role Suha is engaged in a wide range of client projects while also responsible for leading our innovation consultancy practice. Suha is skilled in breaking down sophisticated, cutting edge, technology advancements like Blockchain, AI, BI and machine learning into meaningful solutions for any financial services organization (banking, mortgage, etc.). Suha is widely recognized for driving and inspiring innovation, breaking down these complex and sophisticated technology advancements into meaningful, real world and practical advancements that increase productivity, reduce expenses, and increase revenues. Suha is an award-winning executive leader who has over 35 years of experience in various industries including financial services, mortgage lending, technology, business intelligence, and higher education. She was the Founder/President of her own consulting firm, Z Technology Solutions. She serves on the Board of Directors for Women with Vision as well as the Board of Governors for the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA). She is also a Certified Delegate with the National Association of Women in Real Estate and Banking (NAWRB) as well as a Visionary Ambassador with NAMMBA.