"ADAPTATION TO CHANGE . . . THE DYNAMICS
OF UNORTHODOXY IN COMMERCIAL BANKING"
Talk Given by Richard T. Doermer, President
Indiana Bank and Trust Company of Fort Wayne
Before The Quest Club, Fort Wayne, Indiana
on March 18, 1966
Some months ago one of the more articulate spokesmen for the banking
industry was asked by Arthur Daley of the New York Times if commercial banking
did not seem to him to be a bewildering business. His answer is worth a brief quote;
"There ain't nuthin to it. You go into a fancy meetin' room,
and you just sit there and never open your yap. As long as
you don't say nuthin', they don't know whether you're smart
or dumb. When the question of a loan comes up, if it's a
friend of yours, you vote to give it to him; and if he ain't
a friend, you don't. "
This excellent summary of banking was provided, of course, by Casey
Stengel, director of the Valley National Bank of Glendale, California. Stengel,
as we all know, has not been baseball's most orthodox performer, but he has
enjoyed great success. He has his imitators in banking, though the measure of
of their successes is a matter of highly varied opinion. We shall, however, seek
today to review some of their doings, first refreshing our memories on a few of
the facts and fundamental principles involved in the not-really very difficult
business with which they are associated.
My first concern in approaching this topic evolved from the burden of two
of its title words - - unorthodoxy and dynamics. To some, the term "unorthodox"
suggests something heretical or lawless, a context in no way applicable to the
discussion I have in mind. The unorthodox, to many successful businessmen, is
unthinkable. They have mastered the art of emulation so skillfully that creative,
adventuresome action is unnecessary . . . and objectively undesirable. "Be not
the first to lead, nor the last to follow"; this basically is their creed, . . . and
they work it and live it effectively.
To others, perhaps particularly those enmeshed in businesses subject to
quick and severe change, to follow is generally to fall. As they see it, the scrap
piles of American business are heaped high with the remnants of those who have
clung inflexibly to the conventional, prescriptive, accustomed way.
Members of the Quest Club authorize the Allen County Public Library to digitize and publish past, present and future Quest Club papers for dissemination on the Allen County Public Library website (Board of Directors of Quest Club, Inc., Resolution of May 2010).