Leda Writes for Fintech Futures: funding innovation

Dr Leda Glyptis 11:FS Foundry CEO
5min read

Every Thursday, Leda Glyptis, CEO of 11:FS Foundry creates #LedaWrites. This week she has the topic of innovation in her crosshairs.

A few years ago, my boss told me he had no intention of making any decisions around the things I kept bringing to him. So we are clear. He had no intention of making long term bets, spending money or transforming the business model.

So why am I here? I asked with barely suppressed incredulity, not that he actually thought this but that he openly told me what I already knew was true. We weren’t even keeping up pretences here.

You are my canary in the mine, he said.

Fat lot of good that’s gonna do you. I said.

Don’t underestimate yourself, he said.

Don’t overestimate yourself, I said.

It was high noon.

And I wasn’t trying to be a brat. Or at least no more than usual.

What I was saying is what I have firmly believed since way before that conversation.

Looking at what other people are doing in order to decide where to place your bets when it comes to digital transformation writ large is going to be as effective as looking at other people’s blood tests to determine your own state of health. And if you are doing it to spot the unicorns, by the time they look like unicorns, you are too late.

A digital future entails moving away from your analogue present. All of you.

Your own journey is your own. It doesn’t happen unless you are on it.

A truism, perhaps.

But having seen banks and big financial institutions (FIs) try to take short cuts over the past ten years I feel it needs to be said: you cannot outsource this. You cannot send in the cavalry to fix this for you.

A digital future entails moving away from your analogue present. All of you. The bits that can change and the bits that have to be ditched because they cannot change. And the angst of working out the difference.

No canary in the mine can do that for you. Or even remotely help.

A penny for the thought you never had

The transformation our industry is on is terrifying because it is sweeping and relentless. It’s been going on for ten years and it feels like it is only getting started. Nothing is safe.

Systems, processes, products, definitions of value, stores of expertise. Everything is being questioned, challenged and redefined.

The transformation our industry is on is terrifying because it is sweeping and relentless.

Everyone is looking around them to see where things will land, where others are pushing the boat out, where the new normal is emerging. Everyone is trying to keep calm, maintain a semblance of control, try and impose a bit of their own wishful thinking on the future.

Everyone is hoping their canaries in the mine will tell them if someone is getting it more right than wrong so they can copy or buy. Or if they, themselves, are getting it exceptionally wrong. By comparison.

The problem is that comparative advantage makes little sense in a fluid constantly changing worlds, and the unique ideas that really propel the change tend to be too tied to the moment in time, the market niche, the capabilities of the bringer or the genius of a team that looks at the world and thinks thoughts that are not constrained by legacy, experience, ulterior motives and prior interests.

Discovery consists of seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought

I didn’t think that. A man called Albert von Szent-Györgyi did. But I wish I had thought it.

Because it’s snappy, it’s clever and I agree.

Read the whole story at Fintech Futures.