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Valerie Morris hosted a roundtable discussion, featuring Bill Cheney, CEO of CUNA, Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute, Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Hawk, focusing on vision.

Bill Cheney said the Credit Union movement is filled with passion and purpose, but lacks vision. Credit Unions need to define better their future, be innovative in communications. Customers have to understand Credit Unions provide value and are not just the less sophisticated siblings of banks.

Mark Meyer reminded all attendees of the history of Credit Unions: They had a vision but they didn’t know how successful they would become.

Sir Ken Robinson believes in the power of the collaboration to innovate the movement. Credit Unions have to embrace diversity and work as teams, not as committees.

Valerie Morris asked Tony Hawk what would make him switch to a Credit Union. He asked for accessibility and being able to connect with a real person whenever/wherever.

Credit Unions have a unique opportunity, said Sir Ken Robinson, because people are so dissatisfied with the service level of banks and the skepticism/cynicism towards Wall Street. In addition, our culture focuses now on self-help, and there’s a rise in the need of people to be part of a community. This is an opportunity to reposition the movement, tapping into these cultural waves.

How can Credit Unions grow in this climate?

For the first time in a long time, Americans are open to discuss their finances. Mark Meyer urged Credit Unions to align their internal systems to encourage innovations and have a budget for innovation and emerging technologies.

Sir Ken Robinson reiterated that it’s about the culture of your Credit Union. You have to allow everybody to innovate, not just hire innovation superstars or rely on executives. Give every member of the organization the permission to innovate, including your members. You need to stimulate imagination to have a creative organization and be open to any possibilities.

Tony Hawk discussed that within his teams all ideas are valid and being entertained. All team members are  equal, regardless of the title.

Credit Unions and trust

Mark Meyer discussed research findings that showed Credit Unions were always more trusted than banks. However, the younger generation trusts banks more than Credit Unions.

Bill Cheney said that banks are businesses and Credit Unions are Social Networks, people trying to help each other. We have to communicate to members that Credit Unions are the best institutions to conduct your financial business with.

Elevator Pitch for Credit Unions

“Credit Unions are a better deal and they’re in the business to help you.” Bill Cheney

“People need to feel the trust. And they want to feel special.” Sir Ken Robinson

How to bring responsible courage to your organization

Sir Ken Robinson encouraged Credit Unions to experiment and be ready for projects that don’t work. You have to be risk-tolerant or you will disappear. If you have original ideas that have value, you need to try them out and find the solutions that work.

Mark Meyer added that you should have an “Always in Beta” culture, promoting playfulness and experimentation. Sometimes you start projects and they end up with a different, unexpected outcome.

Bill Cheney explained the financial crisis through the differing visions of banks and Credit Unions: “Banks take care of themselves. Credit Unions take care of their members.”

Sir Ken Robinson said that all life is risky, we need control risk as best as possible. Just like Tony Hawk focuses on a safe landing, when you innovate you need to estimate a possible outcome and plan accordingly.

Are Credit Unions in an identity crisis?

One audience question was a personal concern that Credit Unions are stuck in an identity crisis. Tony Hawk asked Credit Unions to be more fun and engaging, living their community mission. Sir Ken Robinson felt there’s a balance to strike between being hip and being serious and business-like. He also explained that the words “Credit” and “Union” have negative implications right now and it might be wise to contemplate rebranding.