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This article was originally published by Advisor’s sister magazine, Canadian Business.

Ian McDonald is not your typical TD Bank employee.  He wears jeans. He says “cool” a lot. And he works in a funky, open-concept space that looks as if it could be used during off-hours as a set for the HBO series Silicon Valley. (A canvas on an exposed-brick wall nearby is painted with the words “If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted I wish I had a puppy.”)

But McDonald is doing some of the most important work the bank is undertaking these days: He leads TD’s innovation lab in Kitchener, Ont., a high-energy idea factory that uses design thinking and tech know-how to help the staid, blue-chip bank harness new technology and disrupt its own operations before they’re disrupted by competitors from the startup world.

Read: TD head was paid $10.7 million last year

Right now, he’s working with a team that looks as un-banklike as he does: 12 students and three designer/developers (all but two wearing jeans; several in requisite startup hoodies), scribbling madly on Post-it notes. They’ve got three minutes to come up with as many “pain points” as they can—product and service bugs that irritate customers, for which the team will then try to come up with tech-driven solutions. Team members dump their thoughts onto the Post-its, pulling notes off the pad and parking them on their fingers as they accumulate. When McDonald’s timer buzzes, the little yellow and green squares–now being transferred to a wall for discussion—number more than 70. One of them might just be the spark that leads to something new and exciting for TD.

McDonald and his team at the lab churn out hundreds of fresh ideas every month, rapidly prototyping and testing many of them within days of someone jotting down something like “develop a family allowance app.” (That notion was first discussed in spring, 2015. It’s now a downloadable Android app.)

Read the full article at Canadian Business.

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Originally published on Advisor.ca

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