Avoiding Banking Myopia

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15 August 2013
Bob Meara
Back in 1960, Harvard Business Review published Theodore Levitt’s seminal paper entitled Marketing Myopia. As an ex marketer, the paper was on my required reading list. The essence of Levitt’s message is this: critically examine what business you’re in and act accordingly. Focus on meeting customer’s needs rather than selling products. The ideas appear obvious and simplistic, but are actually profound. If you’ve not read the article (or it has been a while) it would make a great read in light of the growing activities of non-banks in the recent past. Myopia isn’t a condition limited to the marketing discipline. In my experience, bank executives tend to be exceeding myopic in their thinking about the business. Beyond limiting their competition to other banks, most focus myopically within their peer group (geography and asset size most typically) as if the actions of banks (and non-banks) outside their peer group are irrelevant. I may be equally myopic and intend to take steps to remedy the weakness. I’m not alone in spending too little time and energy exploring outside financial services. To address this, I plan on setting scheduled time weekly to think outside the box. Perhaps I’ll start with HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials, which includes Levitt’s piece. If you’d like to join me, www.ted.com is another fascinating place to visit. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Click on “Talks” and explore a fascinating cornucopia of short talks on wide ranging topics. They’re guaranteed to get you thinking. Why not pack a lunch once a week and take in a TED talk at your desk? Better yet, watch them at the gym while you’re on the treadmill. Either way, enjoy your myopicidal therapy!

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