Why we only drink one glass of champagne*

 Zoe Anstey photo
Zoe Anstey
5min read

* figuratively ;-)

Celebrating success is important; a Hummingbird Bakery cake, maybe a bottle of fizz to mark the occasion. We can momentarily bask in the glory, but then it’s time to lift up your head and look to the horizon.

So you won a pitch, launched a new product, delivered a standing ovation keynote...great job! Today you are a hero. Tomorrow you are your greatest critic.

Resting on our laurels is not how we do things at 11:FS. We stay curious and look for ways to improve. Even when something is going well, whether it’s a new internal process or a project we smashed out the park for a client, there are always bumps in the road and lessons to be learnt.

We work in a highly competitive and crowded market. If we don’t constantly look to improve, someone else will be the first out the gate and everything we’ve collectively worked so hard to achieve can amount to nothing.

It isn’t easy. The faster your company realises that the team constantly need to work in retrospect the quicker you de-risk the company and remain successful.

It’s no secret that behind every idea there is a high chance that the same light bulb flickered on simultaneously in other locations. If not immediately then it’s only a matter of time before those watching your movements will be jumping on the bandwagon and reaping the benefits of a client base they already know is hungry.

Resting on our laurels is not how we do things at 11:FS. We stay curious and look for ways to improve

At 11:FS we are wholly onboard with “stealing with pride” because after all we are all collectively trying to make a difference in this world.

But the fintech industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, so playing a continuous game of Grandma’s footsteps with our competitors is a given, and that’s just with other challengers.

On the other side of the banking battlefield the incumbents are convinced that being the biggest and oldest brand will act in their favour when it comes to customer loyalty. To some extent they’re right - for now.

The landscape is dramatically changing and the modern world craves flexible thinking. The needs of customers are continuously adjusting and being influenced by all manner of external forces, particularly by the personalised, digital services they use in their everyday lives. If banks don’t keep up with riding the wave, chances are they will be saying hello to the heart of the ocean.

If we remain supple we will never break

I will never forget a story I once read which rings true to life but also business.

It begins with a weed and a big tree. Both grew on the bank of a swiftly running jungle river. One day the tree looked down at the tiny weed and said,“Hey, you puny little creature, why do you stand near me? Aren’t you ashamed to be by my side? See how great, how big I am? How sturdy and strong? Even an elephant cannot move me. But look at you. Hah! You shouldn’t have come here. People will see the difference and laugh at you. Why don’t you move somewhere else?”

The weed bent his head. “Tree,” the weed said, “I know I’m not as strong and stiff as you. But please pardon my presence.”

All right,” boomed the big tree, “but just remember your place!

This conversation happened during the rainy season. The very next day a heavy rain came, causing a terrible flood. When the river floods, it erodes the banks and pulls down anything in its way. The force of the water pulls down the great tree. But the weed bent down, flattened itself completely and let the water run over it. When the flood passed, the weed rose up again.

I know, you’re thinking ‘that’s nice...and?”

Well, putting down roots will keep you grounded, focused. Ensuring that your company has one evergreen mission and one brand identity that makes them uniquely them is important. Equally you have to remain flexible to changing conditions - whether that’s customer expectations, the market you serve or macro trends that can impact everything.

Let a product or a service grow too tall and rigid and soon enough those at the very top will no longer see the changes happening on the forest floor.

What happens then?

Staying close to what is happening on the ground will ensure that the team are constantly looking for new ways of thinking, allowing companies to stay supple and flexible to change.

By this I don’t mean sacrificing the thing your team has spent months growing. Au contraire. You may have nailed your product or service, in which case awesome stuff!

But we need to be mindful that there is always, always room for improvement. There is still 99% to go and there always will be.

So... your glass is empty.

Time to put the Veuve on ice and watch the playback :-)

 Zoe Anstey
About the author

Zoe Anstey

Zoe works as business manager to Group CEO David Brear, handling his day to day workflow as well as helping drive projects across all of the firm's service lines.