Co-design and old fashioned banking

1 Oct 2008 by Karl Hallam

Cadence's work on public service innovation has involved some thought around how the full involvement of users and front line workers might work - co-design, as some have called it. This is in some ways a response to the generally accepted view that the days of centrally determined targets and processes are numbered.

While the current focus of the banking crisis is very much on how naughty the bosses of banks have been in lending to people and organisations who were too risky, there will come a time when we all have to look at ourselves and recognise our own roles in co-creating this situation. Plenty of us have purchased houses we knew we really could not afford on the basis that they would go up in price and we'd win in the end.

Is it therefore time for a return of the days when those who want a loan or mortgage have to make an appointment to see their local bank branch manager? It may have been a  nerve-wracking procedure, but the point was that the customer sat down with the manager and together, they agreed what sensible lending terms would be - user and professional co-designing a financial service together. We may have cursed when turned down for that £500 loan for our first Austin Allegro, but were many of us saved from entering into our own personal credit crunches?

In recent years the decisions on lending terms have been made in bank central offices and put onto the central computer system. Local discretion and knowledge was taken away; everything hinged on whether the 'computer say no', as they put it in Little Britain.

One of the most interesting co-design examples we have seen is Seashell Sure Start Centre in Sheerness, where they wanted to get more dads into the Centre. This video tells the story nicely. We accept that it is, however, hard to imagine many bankers seeing any relevance to them in the near future ...

 

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