Five Tips to Drive Effective Innovation in Fintech
April 27, 2022
For Galileo Chief Product Officer Archie Puri, innovation starts with identifying a problem consumers are facing when it comes to managing and spending their money–and importantly, one that isn’t already being addressed by direct-to-consumer providers in the market. Galileo’s position in the middle of the payments and financial services value chain creates the opportunity to develop solutions at the platform level that can scale quickly and efficiently, filtering to end-users via the company’s consumer-facing partners, Puri noted during a session focused on driving innovation at the Innovative Payments Conference in Washington, D.C. “Instead of having everybody go and solve the same problem–taking many, many times longer–[we look for] problems that we can take and solve in-house, so that we solve it for everybody,” Puri said of Galileo’s innovation strategy. “The faster the solution comes about, the more humans benefit from it.” Ask Questions To effectively identify problems to address via innovation, Galileo’s product team strives to cultivate what Puri called a “learning culture,” focused on proactive, sustained efforts to understand the key issues providers and their end-users are facing. That learning takes place through multiple channels, including direct conversations with clients, sitting in on quarterly business reviews with clients, and end-customer surveys and other feedback mechanisms. “[You have to ] go out and learn about the pressing problems to solve, and then come back and think about what innovation in those contexts means,” said Puri. Once a potential problem is identified, Galileo’s product team has to answer five key questions before beginning the process of developing a solution:
What is the problem you’re solving?
Who are you solving the problem for?
Why is this a problem that must be solved?
How will you go about solving it?
How will you know that you’ve successfully solved the problem?
“For us, thinking about what would be the most meaningful things to build starts with problem discovery with these five simple questions,” said Puri. Embrace Failure Of course, even with a clear plan in mind, innovation is a long, iterative process that’s bound to involve far more failures than successes. But as Puri sees it, when it comes to innovation, failure isn’t just unavoidable; it’s integral. “The more you try, the more times you will fail. If 100 percent of the products you build are successful, chances are you’re not building enough,” said Puri. “So it should be okay to fail. We try it, and if it doesn't work, we move on and try something else.” Carve Out Time Along with accepting–and even celebrating–failure, another key element of creating a successful culture of innovation is devoting designated time to focus on new and prospective projects. For example, Puri’s department sets aside “no-meeting blocks” on team members’ calendars, during which they’re free to learn, read and experiment–a policy that has driven measurable results. “It actually helps bring more ideas back into the team. Because without that time, it’s hard to get enough time to think about [new ideas],” said Puri. Loop in Legal Another tip for more effective innovation Puri offered during the session was to involve legal and compliance teams from the beginning of the process on any given project, a step that can pay off handsomely in the form of avoiding unpleasant surprises further along the development timeline. “In building products, we often look at legal and compliance as the last check before deploying to production, and that is the wrong model,” said Puri. At Galileo, each launch team that is formed when a development project receives the green light to begin includes legal and compliance team members, Puri noted. That way, legal and compliance considerations are woven into the entire design and development process from the ground up, greatly reducing the chances of a product having to be redesigned, or even shelved, at the last minute due to an unforeseen legal or compliance issue. Keep a Clear View Ultimately, Puri said, effective innovation all comes back to keeping the problem a project is addressing at top-of-mind throughout the entirety of a project, despite the inevitable twists and turns that may arise during the process. “We want our teams to be connected to the problem,” said Puri. “The solutions may change, but you have to obsess about the problem.”
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