Charles Potts: Challenging the status quo

ICBA has preached the importance of innovation, not as a project or something to silo inside a department but as an inclusive cultural and philosophical endeavor that should be part of an organization’s DNA.

By Charles Potts, ICBA


By investing in small businesses and creating jobs, community banks are helping support local economies throughout our nation. As prudent lenders, community bankers make every effort to mitigate risk. But at the end of the day, these nimble innovators understand that to succeed in today’s evolving marketplace, there’s a level of calculated risk. At the start of this new year, I invite community bankers to look at their organizations and invest in their own small business, applying their natural risk-taking behavior by challenging the status quo in their organizations and themselves.

All too often, community banks fall prey to the we’ve-always-done-it-that-way mindset. So, to help overcome this obstacle, leadership must continually find ways to empower employees across the bank to question the ways things are done and to offer ideas for ways to improve the customer experience and make the organization better.

Pushing the envelope

At ICBA, we already see movement on this front as community bankers embrace a willingness to explore different perspectives and cultural change. Over the past three years, ICBA has helped community banks realize the possibilities and opportunities available through innovation. It is through this lens that ICBA explores new industry developments. We react, respond and help community bankers remain vigilant in their pursuit of innovation at every level within their banks.

Community bankers are also embracing change and new ways to serve their markets and customers as more and more community banks sign up to participate in ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator program, webinars, networking events and more. We’re seeing community bankers participating in a proactive, evangelical outreach to their peers, sharing their results and successes for the benefit of the industry.

Responding to member needs

As ICBA has said many times before, we are a member-driven, mission-driven organization. Our job is to respond to the needs of our community bankers. To do so effectively, we need to hear from you about what further support we can offer and how we can continue to foster community bank–fintech engagement as we push the innovation envelope for your continued evolution and growth.

ICBA has preached the importance of innovation, not as a project or something to silo inside a department but as an inclusive cultural and philosophical endeavor that should be part of an organization’s DNA. And with that comes a responsibility for everyone at the bank to speak up, challenge the status quo and work to turn possibilities into the reality of the future.


Charles Potts (charles.potts@icba.org) is ICBA’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer