Three principles of innovation from TD Bank’s innovation lab

TD Lab director Ian McDonald has a few simple rules for fostering ideas about next-generation banking

Speaker wearing a TD Lab t-shirt

TD Lab staff leading an internal innovation workshop in 2014. (TD)

The TD Lab at the Communitech hub in Waterloo, Ont., is where the bank prototypes and tests out new product ideas. Ian McDonald, director of the skunkworks, shares TD’s three principles of innovation:

1. Put the customer at the centre

“The best solutions come from a deep understanding of customer problems. We talk to them early and often. The idea is that you don’t sit down and code for a day without showing it to someone.”

2. There’s no hierarchy of good ideas

“Great ideas can come from a senior executive or a co-op student. We built an internal platform where any TD employee can suggest ideas and contribute to others.”

3. Be fearless

“We can’t make any progress if we don’t try. The prototyping activity we do at Communitech is designed to uncover new ideas and approaches, but the ‘failures’ often reveal interesting insights that can be applied to other projects. We have a ‘fail fast, learn fast’ mentality.”