In 2016, I wrote the following article about creating a products and services development program at Bank of American Fork / People’s Intermountain Bank. This is the first time it has been published.
It started with two of us. I had a team member with extraordinary skill in writing proposals that bridged the freedom of ideas with the rigor of a risk management officer. We started with the goal of producing proposal after proposal for the executive team to consider. It didn’t matter if any single proposal was accepted or rejected. We would have another proposal on the table and over time some would be accepted and we would be moving forward.
We had some successes early on. Management liked how we went from department to department to get input and feedback. We tried to think of every question management might ask, about profitability, demand, compliance, risk, etc. The proposals were actionable and they liked the process. After a few months, the COO approached us with a request to establish a committee. He directed us to invite a representative from each function of the bank. He presented us with the exact structure, the multidisciplinary team that we would have asked for. We believe this sprang from the structure of the proposals.
In our first year with the new Product Development Committee, we invited ideas from everyone in the bank. We visited various parts of the bank and looked for places where customers were having trouble meeting their needs. We reviewed our main product lines, and we closed little used products. In our first year, we either revised, launched or closed 13 products. Over the years, our pace has slowed, but over more than seven years, we launched or modified at least three products per year, which is much more manageable. Even this amount of change is a challenge for the organization to keep up with.
As one who studies human-centered design, I’m not sure our process matches up exactly with the ideal models, but it is working for us. We still don’t talk about the design process, but in the end, the results are really what we are after.