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focus

Customers will often ask for one thing while they actually value something different

onto the bank’s balance sheet, enables a bank to lend more. Sounds like a win-win proposition. Wrong. Using design thinking to uncover the real need, Nedbank included teachers and educators – their customers – in the process, in pursuit of radical collaboration. By doing this, they quickly discovered that holding cash on school premises (parents pay a lot of cash into schools for trips and other school services) is a risk, as it attracts thieves. But the real pain point for teachers is the administrative overhead of collecting all the money for school trips, remembering who has paid, who is going, and which parents still need to be chased. School outings enrich pupils’ lives, but the administrative burden on teachers reduces time invested in lesson planning – their core job of teaching. Once it understood the real pain point, Nedbank collaborated with an Edtech partner to create a school app, similar to Uber. This is how it works. The parents associated with a class will receive a notice via the app and can sign up directly – no more need for signing attendance sheets. Parents’ bank accounts or credit cards are linked to the app – just like paying for an Uber cab – so the financial transaction takes place without cash. The app is also linked to Outlook, providing diary management for everyone. The more perspectives that are included in the initial design-thinking stages, the easier it

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is to commercialize the outcome, because you are uncovering real demand. “The parents and teachers sell it for us,” says du Plessis. “Everyone is delighted, including us – we have met a real need.” The app will go to the market shortly.

The greater good

Anything that reduces risk on school premises and increases the time teachers spend on teaching – rather than on administration – has to be a good thing. But there’s more. Nedbank is already contemplating the wider ecosystem of the desperate need for free education in South Africa. “Design thinking helps us to solve problems at a higher level of thinking – it makes you think wider and bigger,” says du Plessis. “This is a thin wedge strategy. It opens our minds to how an app like this might be used to offer free education in the future, especially to children in remote areas.” Giving back and nation building are the next steps on the agenda. Design thinking seems to be a powerful tool. Used properly, it opens the gateway to innovation that really works for customers. But it also seems to be a recipe for cultural change – changing the way a business thinks about and manages itself. Du Plessis has the last word: “Let’s face it, we wouldn’t have come up with these ideas with our usual stiff-collar banker approach!” Q3 2017 Dialogue

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Dialogue Q3 2017