After introductory comments by Stan Hollen, Chief Executive Officer CO-OP Financial Services, Caroline Willard, Executive Vice President, Markets and Strategy, and Samantha Paxson, Vice President Marketing, welcomed the audience with the question: “Are you ready to embrace change and take some risks?”

As a movement, we need to be ready to see and catch the good ideas that are out there. Now, why do we need to change when the credit union movement just experienced the best growth in memberships in over 25 years? And, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, we still have a higher level of customer satisfaction than banks. Well, when we look closer at the scores, credit union scores dropped by 6% from last year, while banks went up to 77. And that’s the first reason why we need need to consider disrupting business as usual:


More than ever, to maintain the momentum of the credit union movement, we have to think big – and think small – to meet the competitive challenge. And that idea of competition leads us to the second reason why we need to think about change.

Disruptive Innovation:

Disruptive Innovation explains why successful companies sometimes fail. Disrupters build new business models from the bottom up. When incumbent players at the higher end of the market fail to adapt – or fail to take the new competition seriously – disrupters succeed. Faster, smaller, and cheaper sometimes takes down bigger and better. The threat in a world of disruptive innovation you can still go wrong because you didn’t see it coming. Even if you are willing to make changes, when you face disruptive innovation, you also have to take risks, because your competition is new and unpredictable.

Credit Unions are in the real-life business. Any disruption in the real world that can affect our membership can have a real impact on us. We need to see the world through the eyes of our members. That’s why THINK looks at disruption from every angle. Throughout the next three days, we will hear from creative, business, and social disrupters. Business experts who are thriving in disrupted industries.

Either we make changes. Or the competition and the process of disruptive innovation will force changes on us. Maybe the most important takeaway of the THINK conference? Don’t be afraid to change.

It’s tough to admit, but sometimes aren’t we motivated more by fear of loss than desire for gain? When we do take a risk, it’s really only to defend what we know. To keep what we have. We don’t take a chance on something new. However, to disrupt business as usual, you have to be fearless.

Let’s start thinking.