# Insights

Jan 21, 2020

Co-design: The new norm for banking innovation

Reading time: Six minutes 

Highly popular with companies seeking to rapidly bring their solutions to market, co-design – a method based on a collaborative approach that fosters collective intelligence – is proving to be a powerful tool when it comes to supporting banks with their digital transformation strategy. 

A powerful innovation drive

There are plenty of methodologies to choose from when it comes to business development: Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma, just to name a few. Each one proposes a system of practices, techniques and systems that aim to help an organization successfully deliver projects and overcome challenging tasks. And each one is different, with its own focus, whether that be software development, project management or personal productivity.     

The co-design approach is one of the most well-established methodologies, with a history that goes back to the 1970s, when it was developed in Scandinavia. It differs from other approaches in that it’s used more for consultancy than anything else. Co-design makes it possible to first outline a roadmap before starting to build prototypes. It takes just a couple of hours to identify priorities and their constraints to launch a project under the best possible conditions.  

Co-design comes in multiple forms – including brainstorming, testing, learning and the safari method. The co-design method can be used on various projects and provides the agility required to support innovation and more. 

Some of the key benefits of co-design include:  

  • The pooling together of ideas from different disciplines  
  • Focused understanding of customer needs  
  • Efficient decision-making process 
  • Quick implementation of ideas 

What’s more, co-design means organizations can move away from their sometimes-outdated modus operandi and focus their expertise on a given topic. A bank, for instance, can leverage this methodology to challenge its capacity to innovate by identifying quick wins and setting realistic targets. Just like a toolkit, organizations need to pick the right tool depending on what they need. This method can also help banking players to distance themselves from the image they traditionally portray and be perceived as agile coaches, always ready to think strategically about innovative solutions, especially in digital. 

An example of co-design in action: 

One of our banking customers in the Congo recently used co-design methods to facilitate change management. They wanted to use a market solution to digitize their processes and meet customer requirements within a shorter timeframe. The customer thought that digital as tool would solve the issue. Through workshops, we were able to fully review existing internal processes and take on-board a holistic view. The customer realized that it needed to overhaul internal practices that were too siloed, rather than implement a digital solution. A digital solution alone, without changing the bank’s outdated practices, would not have solved anything. 

An approach supporting numerous projects

The advantage of co-design is that it helps to generate solutions that match actual user or customer expectations.  By organizing customer-focused workshops, users of co-design can more readily put themselves in the shoes of their consumers and address their needs.  

An example of co-design in action:  

We used co-design to help a banking client in the Ivory Coast launch a new digital offering. The bank’s aim was to standout in the market by offering a new portfolio of digital solutions to attract young customers. They called on us to challenge their offer catalogue. While workshopping using the co-design approach, we identified which of the bank’s proposed offers were most exciting, and which presented previously unidentified operational risks. This upstream thought process meant the team ultimately saved precious time by avoiding a number of pitfalls. 

Integrating a digital culture within banks

Co-design’s agile and cross-cutting methods involve all stakeholders within an organization, from digital to security to compliance and infrastructure. This helps to bring each department’s issues to the surface and foster collaborative working right from the get-go.  

 Co-design can be applied to a bank’s various digital support projects like rolling out innovative solutions, digitalizing banking processes, accelerating change management or streamlining customer experiences. This approach is becoming a genuine working tool that knows no bounds because it addresses all financial institutions, regardless of their size or needs.  

An example of co-design in action: 

A bank was getting ready to launch a new digital offering and wanted to check that it fully addressed customer needs. Thanks to co-design workshops, the bank was able to build a solution prototype and test it with a group of customers to check it matched up to their expectations. We used this initiative to refine the solution, take into account customer feedback before market launch and, therefore, guarantee its success.

Aicha Fadli, co-design Leader & Manager at the Casablanca DigiLab