As GSBC prepared for strategic planning in 2021, we tasked a group of 11 volunteer alums to participate in a “Signals Group.” The group’s purpose was to research and report the findings of emerging technologies that are not widely known or understood. For GSBC’s purposes, Signals Group members were tasked with technologies that held possibility for impacting the future of financial services and GSBC.

The group’s work had a significant impact on GSBC’s strategic planning process, resulting in a forward-focused plan that honors the school’s educational legacy while being deliberate about innovation, a requirement for preparing tomorrow’s community-bank leaders.

GSBC leadership found the contributions of the Signals Group to be so impactful on strategic planning that they knew students should be afforded the same opportunity.

About the Signals Group Intersession Project

Beginning in 2022, rising third year GSBC students had the option to participate in a Signals Group as their Strategic Topic intersession project. There are two active Signals Groups with 10 members each, for a total of 20 students researching emerging technologies and ideas with the potential to affect community banking. As part of the project, group members presented their research and findings to each other, constituting a peer-learning experience for the members.

Most importantly, members were tasked with providing current applications of their researched topic (inside or outside of banking) and provide a list of potential uses and adaptations for community banks.

GSBC’s objective in implementing the Signals Group project is to provide a safe, contemplative and collaborative environment in which individuals can plan for community banking’s future. Participants gain a broader perspective of innovation and what is possible, providing a valuable mindset for organizational planning. It also supports the community banking model, as participants are encouraged to take realistic ideas to their respective banks.

“As I think about the signals group project, it was fun to research and learn something completely outside of my comfort zone. I also enjoyed learning from my peers about technology I would not have explored on my own!” stated Erica Larson, a loan processing manager at Bank Midwest in Fairmont, Minn. Larson’s research topic was machine learning. “During this project, I learned how my community bank utilized this technology and I’ve applied it in my role in loan operations. With the help of ChatGPT, I’ve quickly and efficiently updated job descriptions and standard operating procedures.”

Researched Topics

Sharing the Findings

The Signals Groups concluded their research on April 10, 2023, and GSBC will integrate their findings into a broader peer learning initiative at the 72nd Annual School Session in July 2023. GSBC alumni can also expect to receive alumni-exclusive Signals Group findings in upcoming publications.