In 2017, the leadership at TD Ameritrade, a brokerage firm with a 40 year legacy, made a push to
increase their innovation capacity. They ran a series of innovation sprints with Bionic that granted
participants wide-open boundaries to explore how TD Ameritrade could deliver on their purpose to
"transform lives and investing for the better."
One idea at their first innovation sprint rose to the top — everyone agreed it was a game-changer.
The team that came up with the idea explored possible solutions and created a data-driven digital
tool that, when pitched to senior leaders, received unanimous support from the executive team. At
one point during the pitch the CEO, Tim Hockey, asked everyone in the room, "Who would want to use
this tool?" Nearly every hand shot up. Market research following the sprint confirmed the viability
of this project, and when potential customers were asked if they wanted (and would pay for) the
tool, the answer was a resounding yes.
When the sprint concluded, TD Ameritrade leadership decided to use this potential game changer as
a test case for an Opportunity Area. A three-person team was formed to focus on it, keeping one of
the sprint participants and adding two new cofounders with fresh perspectives.
With new minds and permission to pursue the idea “for real,” the cofounders took a step back from
the solution itself and examined the underlying assumptions: Who was the customer, and what
problem did they need to solve? How big was this problem, and what other solutions were these
customers using currently? Was this problem growing or shrinking? And what were the new enablers
(technologies, trends, etc.) that could be applied to solve the problem?