"When everything seems to move faster than ever, being able to think slow might be the superpower of the 21st century. "
These thoughts might feel familiar to the ones who have read Daniel Kahneman`s book Thinking, Fast and Slow from 2011. Kahneman touches upon some ideas that are highly relevant for businesses in what feels like an ever-shifting environment today.
The buzzwords are countless and the same goes for the possibilities to jump on new innovations, concepts and ideas. But what Kahneman points out, is that jumping on every new trend will be counterproductive. It could tear up both your human and financial resources.
Taking a step back, being able to rethink and analyse, thinking slow, could be the quality that separate the best from the rest.
The leap in 2020
If you talked to my predecessors at any given moment in their careers, they all would probably say something close to the same as me: That the world around them was changing fast and that adapting to that changing world is key to be relevant tomorrow.
That is a part of the beauty of business. It is always moving forward, even in times were the world pulls the emergency brake.
When the pandemic struck Norway in March 2020, everything changed overnight. That was true for Santander as well. In some respects, however, we were lucky. As a fully digital bank who did not have the traditional bank branches, our contact with the clients did not change too much. Some of the digital leaps many businesses took in 2020, were steps along the digital way we had already been taking.
As a matter of fact, Santander used 2020 to develop as an organisation in other aspects. We took a step back looking at our company, and after some reconsidering, we started on a reorganization that merged our four Nordic organizations into one. It is absolutely possible to point out differences between the four Nordic countries, but the similarities are also so present that it makes sense to develop many services and products together.
“Strategic partnership”, “joining a Nordic force”. Standing on the outside, it could probably be interpreted as a step towards a state of one size fits all, where the size fits fewer and fewer.
The truth is the complete opposite.
With closer collaboration with and access to experts and services in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki, making products and develop services that suits each and every one of our clients is more accessible than ever.
I think this is a key to succeeding in our industry. As a bank we are important in individual lives, and while
digitalization makes everyday easier for us and our clients, the individually tailored customer experience is still highly valuable.
There is an increasing number of competitors, with small and smart start-ups who is challenging the traditional banks. It is a customer’s game now. But one of the powers of being strong and global is both that we have competent minds in our organization all over the globe and - as a part of our history - we have a tradition of constantly rethinking.
Right now, sustainability is on top of every agenda. At Santander we call it responsible banking. Those two words contain a whole lot. The banks are no exception when it comes to having to adapt to the green wave. Specifically, ass a market leader on car loans, we have seen the massive shift towards electric vehicles in Norway, and we are working to make it easier for our customers to make sustainable choices.
We were rethinking before Covid, we were forced to rethink during Covid, and we will continue to rethink again and again in the future as well.
Leave some doors behind
Because that is what we do. Every day, we think about how to make our company a little bit better suited for the lives we our meant to support. As I said, if you talked to my predecessors at any given moment in their careers, they all would probably say something close to the same as me.
The business world is always changing, the pace always feels high, and the agenda is long. What is different from my predecessors is what the agenda contains. Today, it is impossible not having a consciousness on business level regarding sustainability and digitalization. But what doors do we open, and what doors do we leave behind?
In a time where we are surrounded by disruptive changes in many sectors, I think there is a quality that would separate the best from the rest: Being able to see and understand what’s just a one-hit wonder, and what will turn out to be the game changing innovation to be a part of in the long term.
Thinking slow when everything goes fast, that could be the superpower.