Hurry Slowly: A Strategy for Tech Innovation

How one "Prolific Inventor" put her creativity to work at JPMorgan Chase

Janet Covey is a Visual Design/User Experience Lead at Chase Digital. Since joining JPMorgan Chase, she’s become what the firm calls a Prolific Inventor—a thought leader and creator whose innovation spans five or more areas within JPMorgan Chase’s patent portfolio. Covey’s inventions focus on ways to simplify, clarify and streamline the digital customer experience, especially the ways customers give and receive information.

She lives and works in San Francisco and has been with the firm nearly six years.

How did you come to be a JPMC Inventor?

I had my own business—designing museum exhibits as well as providing art direction for a myriad of projects—before I came here as a contractor. I expected to be working at Chase Digital for six months at the most. But I got involved in designing a major application, Chase Mobile, and I stayed until we delivered it. And by then I was so involved in developing other ideas that I wound up staying.

My background served me well. Designing a museum exhibit is about presenting information. I had worked with computer graphics and video, so I had already developed a sense of what digital could do. I also brought a tactile sense to the work that turned out to have a lot of bearing on a good or bad customer experience. A customer’s interaction with screens involves sight and touch and a kind of physical logic. My inventor’s work is all about how people need to experience the flow of information digitally.

How do you keep track of your ideas?

I keep a notebook and write things down, even if I don’t think they’ll lead to anything. There aren’t any bad ideas. There are just ideas that spark—or don’t—and you can’t tell the difference until you journal them. I think the stumbling block for a lot of people is that collecting and curating ideas is perceived as the role of a team leader. You can be your own whiteboard, and your own packager and presenter of ideas and concepts.

What can JPMorgan Chase do to further support inventors?

We can continue to build a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive. In the last ten years, Digital has changed a lot. It’s more open. There’s commitment to the idea that you need diversity when you’re creating customer experiences. There’s not just one kind of user—they’re affluent and not affluent, millennials and octogenarians. There can’t be just one customer experience, and we have to understand and reflect that. That’s where diversity and inclusion come in. They are critical to the successful execution of our ideas.

You talked about process and space for inventing. What are the ideal conditions?

A speaker at a conference I went to made a deep impression on me because her whole concept was “Hurry slowly.” A lot of great ideas come to us as we’re just living our lives and walking around. An invention/solution is often just based on imagining one of your own typical experiences with some of the tedium and friction removed from it.

What’s your picture of a community of practice for inventors?

Here in Digital I think we aspire to more collaboration. It’s wonderful when it happens, and we need to create more moments where you can ask: Who’s got an idea? I think JPMorgan Chase is really working on this across the technology community.

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