Pegs, Holes, and Experience Minimization

We’re all familiar with the phrase “don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole”. It’s a basic enough concept – if something doesn’t quite work, then don’t use it. But we all know it isn’t always that easy for one simple reason:

How do you know if something doesn’t fit?

Banks often have different people administering different tools and software suites that are in use. What can happen over time is one of these people gets good at a certain tool and the inevitable “it works for A, so we should use it for B” conversation arises. Makes sense, right? Successes in one area should translate into successes in another. But we all know that’s not always the case. Maybe the tool was oversold and is missing functions. Maybe the person is thinking they can manipulate it beyond what it can actually do. Maybe it works, but actually made a process a little harder to understand.

To filter through all that, when these ideas arise we first ask banks to think about Experience Minimization. This idea focuses on minimizing the number of experiences a person has to learn. There are three basic tenets:

1. The more tools a person has in use, the less likely they are going to be good at all experiences

We use a lot of tools every day, from email to core systems. If you were to write down every experience you have to be good at, it might just surprise you. The more we pile on tools, the less likely we are to be experts at all of them.

2. Using a tool for a small percentage of the work makes it harder to become organically fluent in the tool

We all have that tool we all have to use occasionally, and we dread having to work in it. I’ll bet you thought of it before you were done reading that last sentence! Our disdain usually comes with our lack of experiences in the tool – the less you use it, the less likely you are to fully understand it. Over time, even a bad tool that you use a lot will become comfortable and you may not even notice how bad it is because you’ve figured it out.

3. Using an existing tool or a manual process can sometimes be better than adding a tool

We all love our gadgets and gizmos, but sometimes you don’t need a fancy tool because a good old-fashioned hammer will work. Is it a little ugly and not as fancy? Maybe, but it gets the job done.

Use an Experience Minimization mindset when you are improving any process, adding in a new process, and evaluating your software and tool set. Some questions that you’ll want to ask might include:

  • Do we already have something that does this? If so, how close is the functionality?

  • If we add this tool, can it do other things? Can other processes be added in to create more experiences in the tool?

  • If we add this tool, can we make the experience similar to other items? Does the terminology match? Do the documents and forms look similar?

  • How often is this used? If its frequent, how do we continually reiterate its use? If its infrequent, how do we keep people up to speed?

If you’d like to discuss these processes more, we’re always happy to talk about these ideas and how we can help. Keep in touch with CC Interactive on our website ( or by contacting Jesse Cain or Hans Christensen for more on enabling bankers to create profitable customer relationships.

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