I've just attended the Digital Leadership Forum's webinar on Leading Innovation. Jason Maude, Chief Technology Advocate, Starling Bank talked us through Starling Banks' approach to innovation.
Like Clifford Chance Applied Solutions, innovation at Starling Bank starts with a relentless focus on customers - first identify where the customer problems are and then ask: how can we do it better. Jason identified that this can be easily said but can be harder to do. I agree! But then he surprised me by talking about mistrust and chaos monkeys....
Jason highlighted the importance of robust technology as a foundation for innovation. Starling have put in place systems to help people trust the technology and processes which so often underpin innovation, so they don't worry that something will break. This then reduces their resistance to the innovation. Starling have a developed a suite of technology systems for the processing of payments that fundamentally mistrust each other - each component part does not assume anything about what another part of the system tells it. This means that if one part goes wrong a transaction is not lost in the system and when the broken part is fixed the processing can resume. This approach has led to Starling being able to safely deploy code every working day. This approach has been borrowed from Netflix's Chaos Monkey tool that randomly disables production instances to make sure Netflix can survive common types of system failure without any customer impact.
We don't have mistrustful systems or a Chaos Monkey tool at Clifford Chance Applied Solutions, but we do carry out extensive testing and monitoring of our products.
I find it interesting to reflect on how testing and monitoring can directly reduce resistance to technology related innovation. However, people quite often only really appreciate the value of testing once something has gone wrong and understand what is involved in the testing. So I have decided that I am going to do more to promote that understanding especially within Clifford Chance Applied Solutions and the wider Clifford Chance group, I actually don't think it will be that hard since it's part of the a lawyer's psyche to check and legislate for all reasonable eventualities.