Doug Rauch, former President of Trader Joe’s, discussed with the THINK audience how creative thinking can yield better solutions to everyday problems facing your credit union.

Trader Joe’s is named after its founder, Joe Coulombe. The chain began as a Greater Los Angeles area chain of “Pronto Market” convenience stores. The original Pronto Markets were similar to 7-Eleven stores, so similar Coulombe felt the competition with 7-Eleven would be ruinous. He is said to have developed the idea of the Trader Joe South Seas motif while on vacation in the Caribbean. The biggest difference compared to competitors was that Trader Joe’s created a culture of sustainable innovation. This changes everything because it allowed the brand to regard creativity as process, not an event. Creativity should be an integral part of your credit union, not just part of a division or job title.

While it’s important to be creative and produce original ideas of value; it’s even more important to be innovative: taking those original ideas of value to the marketplace. Remember these AT&T commercials?



Great ideas. Too bad, AT&T never executed them.

As credit unions, you need to rewrite the rules. Just like Apple did with the iPhone, Zappos with customer service; credit unions will not succeed by following the rules. Trader Joe’s sells groceries just like other stores. Their biggest difference is HOW they do it: Integrity of design, employees are ‘crew members’, hiring the right people that have a passion for the brand experiene. Think about hiring outsiders with fresh, diverse ideas, people that consider creativity a team sport. Hire people for their ability to connect, not for how quickly they complete a task. Why not make your credit union more personal? Allow employees to express their creativity?

The real big picture according to Doug Rauch

  • A culture of trust and care is the secret weapon you have. If you want to change your credit union, change your culture.
  • Consider your credit union a customer experience company.
  • Transcend the Transactional. Look beyond the deal.
  • Connections with people make the real difference.