Monday morning THINK 11 shifted gears from Sunday’s examination of the credit union industry to the really big question of vision. After so much stripping away – of old formulas, identities, revenue expectations and realities – how do credit unions rebuild? And how do we rebuild in a way that is meaningful for the future?
CO-OP’s Caroline Lane, senior vice president of business development, and Samantha Paxson, vice president of marketing, made the case for a new focus. Instead of fixating on the bottom line – or even product lines – how about recasting your goals in terms of member satisfaction? “The product at Disneyland is happiness; that’s what they create every day,” said Lane, who, like Paxson, is a Disneyland alum.
Paxson agreed: “Disneyland doesn’t think in terms of operations. Keeping up with technology is never the goal. Making people happy is the goal; operations and technology are simply a means.”
Making your members happy is an excellent ideal, but in a rapidly changing, increasingly complex world, getting there requires innovation. Sir Ken Robinson, one of the world’s leading experts on creativity (see his brilliant 2006 TED speech here), argued that creativity is neither rare nor exotic: “If you’re a human being, creativity comes with the kit.”
The trick for organizations is creating a culture in which innovation thrives. Robinson suggests giving employees “permission” to share their ideas, finding ways to spark imagination in your organization (at Pixar, he notes, all employees attend four hours a week of workshops and seminars designed to present new, compelling ideas from which inspiration and discussion can begin) and allocating resources to trying out new ideas – even if they result in a few flops.
If there’s a term for creative success through persistence, that term might be “Tony Hawk.” The 12-time world champion skateboarder – famous for landing the gut-twisting, mind-altering “900” (ask your kids what this is) – shared his journey from 9 year-old mischief-maker to multimillionaire businessman. After turning pro at age 14 in an “industry” that had yet to find its footing, Hawk made many missteps. Initially delighted to be making money from licensing his name, in his own words he, “signed so many contracts that many were conflicting. It took lawyers a lot of time to get everything sorted out.”
Still, the determination that served him well on the skateboard ramp proved to be handy in business. He and a partner launched their own skateboard company, Birdhouse Projects. From there, Hawk became the driving force behind his own Boom Boom HuckJam tour, the insanely successful Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games, Hawk Clothing, the Tony Hawk Foundation (to promote skate parks in underprivileged communities) and Athletes for Hope. By following his gut and always being up for entertaining a new challenge, Hawk has taken his legend beyond skateboarding and into the boardroom. “My only secret,” he said, “is that I never quit.”