Based on the Silicon Valley stories of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page, most people think that the visionary executive leading Digital Transformation initiatives is prevalent in the business world. But in reality, that’s often nothing more than a myth At most companies, change happens from the bottom up: people at many levels within company often realize the changes happening in the business faster than the executives. They realize that their business needs to do something different to compete and they need to explore how things are changing and what’s possible. Does this sound familiar?

Today, credit unions are using digital technologies to explore how they can dramatically change the member experience and, in doing so, enhance their competitive position.  Change always begins with a catalyst; something happens within the business that forces the credit union to rethink their way of doing things. The catalyst could be increasing member complaints about certain processes or products. Or it may be a realization that processes are stuck in “old school” thinking and execution, and it’s slowing down the business. The catalyst might be changing economic conditions driving the need to find a simpler way to operate. Or it could be leaders realizing the business is leaving money on the table and not getting as much out of stakeholders as they could. A catalyst all too common these days is the realization that a business can benefit from automation to empower their staff to advise their members.

As they probe the catalyst further, leaders often wake up to the fact that they have an opportunity to drive a “breakthrough performance” one that achieves more than just incremental business improvements. For example, many of our clients have begun to integrate digital technologies into their call centers. This automation has shrunk much of the process overhead, dramatically improving efficiencies and cycle time, lowering costs and enabling them to be better at what they do. This breakthrough performance through digital transformation has changed what they do and how they do it.

This is a completely different level of business impact than confining a transformation initiative to an incremental improvement in cost in the call center. Walking down this path of exploring how things are changing and how to make a dramatically bigger impact requires leaders with open minds across functional barriers.

Why Not Start With The Vision For Breakthrough Performance?

While it is tempting to focus energy on a vision for a breakthrough performance, an idea or vision that is too big tends to crumble quickly. Here’s why:

  • People don’t believe it’s doable and will tell you it can’t be done.
  • You can’t get any traction. You don’t know upfront what dimensions you’ll need to break through for the change, and people lack confidence for taking on that level of risk.

Only when a leader gets the credit union to go on the journey and define that idea, can you accelerate progress.

Transformation journeys pick up speed when the organization recognizes there is a breakthrough opportunity, believes that it can be done and commits to do it. That’s the difference between digital journeys that don’t get to their desired outcome and the ones that get there and get there rapidly.

You can have a point of view at the outset. But at the end of the day, people don’t build belief in what they’re told. They build belief in what they experience and what they build. So, the credit union must build this vision from the bottom up. Leadership should guide it, shape it, expose the opportunity. But each level of the credit union must grapple with it.

When a credit union starts with a recognition of the kind of change enabled by disruptive technologies and techniques and open minds to explore what they can do, it can shape disruption to drive a powerful breakthrough in company performance.

Learn more about CO-OP can help you accelerate digital transformation and drive breakthrough performance.