When ANZ Bank took 23 executives – including its entire board – to the innovation powerhouses of San Francisco and Silicon Valley in June, they returned with mixed impressions of what they saw.

On one hand, the start-up culture with its agile mindset and no fear of failure gave the executives food for thought.

“It was a real eye-opener for me to experience some of the cultures in those organisations,” group chief human resources officer Susie Babani said in a recent presentation.

“Some of the things that I was thinking about [how] to translate into the bank is the whole test-fail-learn attitude and approach and the agility that requires.

“We tend to be much more long-term in our thinking, [whereas] we have to be an organisation that has a culture of taking risks and where failure is OK. And I’m certainly not going to say that’s the culture we have in the organisation at the moment, but we need to change that.”

One thing ANZ is less convinced about is whether some of those flagged as leaders in the digitisation space are really that far ahead of their international counterparts.