December 30, 2008

Necessity is the mother of invention, and in 2009 bank technologists will have to be creative to do more with less. To encourage new approaches to business, Wells Fargo instituted a formal program in 2007. The Innovation Stock Exchange (recently featured in BS&T sibling publication InformationWeek as one of "20 Great Ideas for You to Steal") is likely to be even more useful in 2009.

The Exchange is a forum in which the San Francisco-based bank's technologists put forward ideas that could benefit the business. Ideas are "traded" on the exchange, and the extent to which their value rises or falls, as with stock prices, helps determine which ideas are implemented.

BS&T recently spoke with the man behind the Innovation Exchange, Glen Grosslight, SVP of the technology information group at Wells Fargo.

BS&T: What is the idea behind the Exchange?

Grosslight: The Innovation Stock Exchange is a unique way to promote a culture of innovation.

BS&T: How effective has it been?

Grosslight: Several ideas that originated from the ISE have already been implemented, and other business lines are interested in participating in the ISE. Other, related initiatives have launched as a result of the ISE; for example, a formal team member recognition program.

BS&T: What kind of incentive do these programs offer? Is there compensation or other recognition for accepted ideas?

Grosslight: The ISE awards cash prizes to the top idea submissions. In the first market cycle, it also awarded cash prizes for the top "traders" [those who submitted the most ideas]. Aside from the cash prizes, team members view it as an opportunity to share and develop innovative ideas and leverage knowledge about existing initiatives across the company.

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