Be Excellent To Each Other

In order to avoid another “bogus” adventure, credit unions must remember the immortal worlds of two 80’s airheads.

One of my favorite movies growing up was the 1989 cult hit Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the story of two academically challenged high school rockers who go back in time to meet historical figures like Billy the Kid, Socrates, and Abraham Lincoln, and bring the icons back to the present for an epic history class presentation.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
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In addition to helping launch Keanu Reeves to stardom, the movie also resulted in a sequel three years later called Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure, which had the two paired off against death himself.

While these two time-traveling teens from San Dimas, CA, are not your typical business role models, their famous on-screen advice Be excellent to each other is a good summation of the sort of cooperative mentality that helped credit unions and their members dig out of the great recession, the most bogus economic adventure of recent history.

Credit unions didn’t cause that event, but with the winter freeze finally thawing, the economy growing, and members borrowing en masse again, it’s easy to prioritize a product that doesn’t quite have the members’ best interests at heart or view other cooperatives as competition rather than allies. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to make sure you are staying the course. I call it the Bill & Ted test.

If you were to go back in a time machine and kidnap your credit union’s founding members, its first manager, or even a version of yourself during the darkest days of the recession, what would they have to say about the plans you’re making now?

Where would they pat you on the back and where would they kick you in the butt instead?

In many ways, the goal for this issue of Strategy & Performance is not to preserve the past so much as learn from it, helping credit unions to maintain that heightened state of awareness where what could one day be is treated just as importantly as what is happening right now.

To start, we go straight to the source with our Annual Report recap and the findings of Callahan’s 2015 Executive Outlook Survey, a contextual and visual guide to the priorities of the industry for the months ahead.

Next comes our Anatomy of BECU. One of the largest and yet nimblest credit unions in operation today, this organization has constantly refined its ideas about things like branding, service delivery, and employee engagement without deviating from its historical purpose.

Our Ideas In Action section is all about growing your deposits, a key factor in maintaining the liquidity needed to serve today’s high loan demand, while Technology@CU examines key decision-making around plastic payment mediums both new (EMV) and familiar (prepaid and rewards).

Lastly, in the spirit of not taking ourselves too seriously, please enjoy your included copy of our own industry-themed board game, Co-Opoly, which puts you at the helm of a brand-new organization fighting its way through the first 10 years of existence.

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue and as Bill & Ted themselves would say, Party On, Dudes.

April 25, 2015

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