A case study from the Greek banking sector: Idea generation

A case study from the Greek banking sector: Idea generation

The director of the bank’s credit card unit suggested that ‘this stage takes about one month to complete’. Furthermore, most of the ideas are generated within the business unit where the new service is developed. These business units are the most popular internal sources of ideas. There are between two and ten idea-generation sessions whose fundamental objective is to come up with new ideas. Only the people from the relative business unit participate in these sessions. The number of ideas that are originally produced in this stage depends largely on the nature of the service.

However, before the beginning of these sessions some discussions are held with some of the bank’s stakeholders, who could provide ideas for new services. The second most popular internal source of ideas is the other business units of the bank. However, the director of the consumer credit unit argued that ‘even in this case the idea for a new service will start from another business unit only if it has been realised that this idea fits with another unit’s range of services’. Thus, the relative business unit will make the final decision. The third most popular source of ideas is the bank’s branches and especially the branch officers who have a thorough knowledge of the customers’ needs. Finally, the role of the functional departments and in particular the role of the marketing department is limited at this point. This last finding contradicts with most previous studies, which regard the marketing department and the other line managers as fundamental internal sources. Furthermore, many respondents claimed that the bank encourages its employees in general to provide new ideas, although there is no organised procedure for this.

The most popular external source of ideas is the bank’s competitors. This increased role of competitors has also been underlined by previous studies. Furthermore, the corporate and investment sectors also use their customers as a source of new ideas. Even in this case though, an idea for a new service does not originate directly from a customer. The business units in the retail sector also use the market research agency with which the bank cooperates as a source of new ideas.

Table 1 Idea generation techniques used by the bank under study


Collection of ideas in freewheeling discussion without criticism

Problem inventory analysis

Generation of a list of negative attributes of the existing services

Combination with interactions

Combining of a service or property to obtain new and more


The application of a new service

Identification of the extent to which an already existing service
can serve

for new functions

for new functions if some of its attributes are modified

The most common idea generation method among all the business units is the brainstorming technique, but there are three other methods used, which are presented in Table 1.