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Developing a yearly conference and daily updates to our content platform requires an open mind, never-ending curiosity and constant learning. Instead of sharing the hundreds of books we read throughout the year, we wanted to trim them down to five books you should have in your office, on your eReader or nightstand before you head out to THINK 17. If you’re looking for the perfect reading material for the plane ride, here it is.

“Cities in the past were built on riverbanks. They are now built along highways. But in the future they will be built based on availability of optical fiber networks and next-generation infrastructure.” – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India

Digital technology is transforming entire industries, including financial services, within a very short time, and there is exponentially more change to come. In “Digital to the Core,” Mark Raskino and Graham Waller of Gartner, Inc. explain how leaders today must bring digital to the center of everything they do. They discuss how digital businesses will cause greater disruptions and require more significant organizational and business model changes than the internet of times past ever did.

Executives must understand the critical forces driving digital to the core of products and services and learn how to redesign their industries, remodel institutions and reinvent themselves to take digital to the core of their leadership. A guide for leaders looking to make bold strides in their digitization journey, this book identifies three major disruptive forces in the digital era:

  • Resolution Revolution: allows us to accurately measure and precisely control things and events.
  • Compound Uncertainty: requires that leaders assess the tipping points of technology, culture and regulation.
  • Boundary Blurring: occurs when the digital and physical worlds merge and alters industries as we know them.

These are the challenges faced by credit union leaders today. Technology is an amazing opportunity to reinvent themselves with customer-focused digital products. “Digital to the Core” offers real guidance on forming a detailed plan for moving forward, using real-life expertise from people who are ahead of the digital transformation game. This requires you to:

  • Remake yourself: Who do you need to be and how do you have to change to become a digital leader?
  • Remodel your credit union: What does your credit union need to become and how will you redefine your institution?
  • Remap your industry: How do you need to change your world view, and what credit union paradigms do you need to rethink?

“Digital to the Core” offers realistic advice to develop strategies, create digital concepts and become a more dynamic organization. This book is a practical guide to make the leap to a digitally transformed organization.

While “Digital to the Core” delivered an insightful overview of the challenges credit unions are facing and opportunities opening up, the next book focuses solely on the members and their needs:

The Jobs to be Done concept explains that customers “hire” products to accomplish things – or better, jobs – in their lives. When the products that they’re currently using make it difficult to get a job done, they’ll start looking around, possibly firing those products in favor of new ones. Just think back to the time when there was no Lyft and Uber and you had to get transportation. It was raining, no cab stopped for you or you had to compete with others for one. When you were finally in a cab, you had to check to see whether you had enough money with you, or whether the driver accepted credit cards. Looking back, there were so many pain points around getting one basic job done: getting from point A to B.

 “Once you understand what jobs people are striving to do, it becomes easier to predict what products or services they will take up and which will fall flat.” – Stephen Wunker

Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centric Innovation,”  by Stephen Wunker (THINK 17 speaker), Jessica Wattman and David Farber is a guide book for moving your credit union forward on the digital transformation journey by considering which jobs your members need done. The team of authors claims that most companies are innovating the wrong way. They’re making what their customers say they want. This might lead to incremental innovation but it’s unlikely to ever disrupt a market. Steve Jobs famously said, “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.” The key for credit unions might be asking why their members want specific things and developing products that members don’t even know they need.

Follow the step-by-step guidance of “Jobs to Be Done” and you will be prepared to deliver innovative and transformative solutions for your members that are original and profitable.

Members need to get jobs done. But what are the jobs credit unions need to get done? And how should they answer the increasing demands of members and ever-more-forceful competition from banks and fintech startups? This is the leadership and executive challenge examined by Columbia Business School faculty member and THINK 17 speaker David Rogers in his insightful book “The Digital Transformation Playbook,” which answers these questions and provides a complete guide for legacy companies on how to transform to compete in a digital economy. And, yes, Rogers explains in his guide that digital transformation is not about upgrading your technology, but digitally enhancing and upgrading your strategic thinking. To prosper in the digital age, businesses need to rethink their underlying assumptions in five domains of strategy – customers, competition, data, innovation, and value.

 “Increasingly, our competitive assets may no longer reside in our own organization; rather, they may be in a network of partners that we bring together in looser business relationships.” – David Rogers

“The Digital Transformation Playbook” was written for legacy companies, like credit unions, to make use of digital tools to compete with upstarts and to innovate faster. With a new awareness of the digital environment, credit unions can ride the wave of digital transformation into a new world of long-term innovation. Innovation has always been around, the difference from years past is the pace of innovation created by technology.

“Creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it.” – Rowan Gibson

This increasing pace requires new answers and models. Just search “books about innovation” with Google and you’ll get more than 77,400,000 results. Yes, the innovation field is filled with a lot of mediocre thoughts based on recycled ideas and insights. And then there are the few books that provide fresh points of view, ways of thinking and of applying creativity to work. “The 4 Lenses of Innovation” by Rowan Gibson belongs to those chosen few.

The book describes four lenses – or tools – you can use to embark on a process of innovation. Based on a foundation of neuro-scientific knowledge about how the human mind works, it encourages readers to recognize their own creative genius. The four lenses provide us the ability to find and explore fresh perspectives. Rowan Gibson calls them “four perceptual lenses” to uncover insights and opportunities:

  1. Challenging Orthodoxies: questioning deeply entrenched beliefs and assumptions, and exploring new and highly unconventional answers. Think Martin Luther, Newton, Elon Musk, Apple stores and Chipotle. Innovators are often seen as troublemakers, contrarians, heretics and rebels; their challenge of orthodoxies becomes the cradle of creativity.
  2. Harnessing Trends: recognizing the future potential of emerging developments, and using these trends to open up new opportunities. Think Amazon Kindle, Starbucks’ mobile payments app and Waze. Innovators are not necessarily futurists, but they are imaginative and have an ability to use the power of change. As Rowan Gibson says: “Innovators tend to have a wider field of view and an amazing sharp-sightedness.”
  3. Leveraging Resources: understanding our limitless capacity for redeploying skills and assets in new ways, combinations or contexts. Think Disney, Corning and Amazon’s expansion into numerous fields. Successful innovators develop, stretch and synthesize resources, and focus on organizational creativity.
  4. Understanding Needs: paying attention to issues and frustrations others have ignored, and experimenting with new solutions to problems. Think Dyson vacuums, Nest and Diane Hevin (women-only gyms). Based on human-centered design thinking, companies need to balance technical R&D with customer research to meet the unmet needs and frustrations that everyone else is simply ignoring.

Building on the four lenses of innovation, Gibson offers an eight-step innovation process for organizations, explaining how Archimedes, Einstein and Edison used this method to their, and humankind’s, advantage. The book contains 304 pages of full-color illustrations, bringing the whole subject of creativity and innovation to life.

This book will challenge your thinking pattern. It will help you travel through the creative journey we all need to take and help you to rethink everything. Ultimately, in the words it shares from noted strategic branding apostle Steve Zelle, it will help you recognize that “The creative process is chaos wrapped around structure and held together by a sprinkle of magic dust.”

“The opportunity to reach the extraordinary may be most pronounced in settings that have been far too ordinary for far too long.”

 Many of us dream of working at a cool place like Netflix, Uber or AirBnB. The offices are amazing; they changed the world in unforeseen ways within a few years. One imagines a work life filled with excitement and innovation. Maybe it should remain a dream.

William C. Taylor’s new management book, “Simply brilliant” answers this dream with a provocative assertion: You don’t have to be working with world-famous innovators and Silicon Valley unicorns to be accomplishing something remarkable. Your best opportunities for change and real innovation are in the businesses that run parking lots, deliver health care and, yes, handle other people’s money.

Just think of parking garages. Yes, parking garages. Architectural Record describes them this way: “In the Pantheon of Building Types, the parking garage lurks somewhere in the vicinity of prisons and toll plazas.” That is, until developer Robert Wennett came along and hired the architects who designed the Tate Modern in London and Beijing’s Nest Olympic Stadium. Wennett invested more than $60 million to transform a bland garage into a cultural landmark.

1111 Lincoln Road has been called “stunning” by the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press wrote that it, “has become a modern gateway to the see-and-be-seen cafe scene of Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road.” It’s become a site for weddings, wine tastings, yoga classes and celebrity parties.

“Let’s look at what a parking garage is, and then let’s twist every single notion about it. Nothing we do here is what you expect. We’re creating an experience, we’re telling a story.” Robert Wennett

 What story is your credit union telling that’s unexpected and unforgettable?

Just remember: There’s no such thing as an average or old-fashioned business, just average or old-fashioned ways to do business.

Taylor’s checklist starts with the importance of building a unique definition of success that stands apart from the competition. If other financial institutions view retail deposits as a dull feedstock for the more exciting parts of banking, see if you can find a way to make branch banking exciting. Take a tip from WD-40, which decided it was more than a peddler of industrial lubricants; it was on a mission to rid the world of squeaks, smells and dirt.

“The thrill of breakthrough creativity and breakaway performance doesn’t belong just to the youngest companies with the most cutting-edge technology or the most radical business strategies,” says Taylor. “It can be summoned in all sorts of industries and all walks of life, if leaders can reimagine what’s possible in their fields. The opportunity to reach the extraordinary may be most pronounced in settings that have been far too ordinary for far too long.”

If you are looking to do credit union business differently in your community, Taylor’s book is the perfect inspiration to get started and start envisioning your personal, digital transformation journey.

Happy reading and we’ll see you at THINK 17!