The Tao Of Innovation

Moving like water is the key to going farther and reaching your goals faster.

Every successful business has a unique configuration of people, technologies, and processes that it relies on to guide and shape its trajectory. And sometimes, these configurations work so well that they can become overleveraged, like a running river continuing to cut deeper grooves and channels until there’s really only one path through which business can flow.

But what would you do if a key component of that formula suddenly disappeared or proved faulty? What if your commitment to the current course was actually impeding your ability to adapt to new opportunities or rise to new challenges?

Rampant evidence of this phenomenon can be seen in the airline industry, where the use of automated systems has become not only a crux of daily operations, but also a crutch.

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.
Bruce Lee

According to The Atlantic, pilots only directly control the plane for an average of about three minutes per flight, with the rest of the time spent on autopilot. Generally speaking, this automation technology helps save lives.

However, frequent overreliance on autopilot has also played into a number of preventable accidents, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to issue an alert recommending pilots take a more hands-on approach in order to better maintain their manual skill sets.

Credit unions, too, need to frequently disconnect from autopilot and challenge their people, technology, and assumptions in order to stay safe and efficient and this edition of Callahan’s Credit Union Strategy & Performance (CUSP)is designed to help you do just that.

Our Anatomy profile for this quarter highlights MECU of Baltimore, Inc.,a cooperative whose earnest and in-depth reinvention over the last two decades has allowed it to break out of traditional comfort zones, diversify its product lineup, and adapt the local market to its vision, rather than the other way around.

Sometimes, you may actually need to go backwards in order to move forward as a business. For example, our Technology@CU section focuses on strategies to reincorporate an employee presence back into your self-service and remote channels, rather than continuing to strip these important relationship-building interactions away.

In addition, Ideas In Action explores why many institutions are going back to the drawing board for their staffing strategies, choosing to either create new roles from the ground up, or merge and share responsibilities in a way that keeps the entire institution engaged, cohesive, and nimble.

Credit unions found their way through the recession by being water when the competition was stone, and a continued spirit of adaptability will allow them to keep their momentum no matter what new challenges lie ahead.

July 15, 2014

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