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Is Your Organization Going for the Gold, Silver, Bronze or a Certificate of Participation?

Strategically Speaking
Aug 8, 2012

Milton King Author: Milton King,

As a former sprinter, I am always fascinated by the Olympic Games.  In case you were curious, my best time in the 100m was 10.99.  In other words, I didn’t give up an Olympic career to go into the technology business.  As I was struggling to stay awake for the finals of the men’s 100 meter dash (aka “the world’s fastest human contest”), I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between a race - decided by hundredths of a second - to the business environment we all live in.   

Olympians spend their entire lives trying to shave off fractions of a second, add 1-2 inches or add 1 more point.  At that level, minutia is the name of the game!  I submit to you that life in a financial institution is much the same.

Ask yourself –

  • How many meetings have you had to discuss cost reductions that involved, literally, pennies? 
      • I would guess, many.  Especially, for those of you who deal with high-volume transactions.
  • When was the last time you discussed ideas to achieve, what amounts to, single-digit growth?
      • Probably … yesterday.
  • When was the last time you made a decision based on the smallest of differentials?
      • Heck!  You may be doing that now.

Why do we all work so hard for what seems to be so little?  We, like the Olympians, recognize that it can be the difference between gold and bronze, or, the difference between profit and loss.

You all know the story of differences between taking first vs. second, particularly in sports.  The winner gets riches and accolades while the loser gets next to nothing. 

For exercise, I tested myself on recalling past gold medalists in the 100m.  That was a challenge, remembering the silver medalist would be impossible.  Remembering the last four Super Bowl champions is hard enough.  Remembering who they beat (unless it was your team) is extremely difficult.  The fact is we value success no matter how small the margin of victory.

Your financial institution’s success starts with the smallest unit knowing that saving a small amount or generating a little more revenue can result in major success.  You search for solutions to:

  • Reduce your teller transaction cost by .005 per transaction
  • Reduce you storage cost by .0025 per item.
  • Generate .0075 more revenue per ATM transaction.
  • Increase your funds availability by hours via expedited clearing.
  • Offer conveniences to your customers to help expand your relationship with them by a few deposit dollars.
  • Constantly monitor your ATM network to find where you can save a fraction of a cent.

Recognizing the importance of these small things is what separates gold from bronze.  My suspicion is that if you are reading this blog you are one of those professionals who focus on the little things.  You know that any of them could be the difference.

Back to the 100m dash, it was won by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the man that finished 7th (last as one runner pulled up hurt) was Trinidad’s Richard Thompson.  The difference in time between the two men - .35 seconds.

As professionals how can we make sure the partners, solutions, and strategies we choose assure us a gold medal and not just a Certificate of Participation?

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