19 Credit Union Leaders. 1 Vision For Member Service.

Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union regularly hits pause on the daily grind to talk big-picture strategy. Learn how those efforts are paying off.
Top-Level Takeaways:
  • After three sessions of a structured strategy program, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union implemented a survey to better understand credit card usage.
  • The credit union also identified a branching problem for an internal team to analyze.

Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union ($1.3B, Lowell, MA) has held monthly meetings with its leadership team for some time. However, it wasn’t until the past couple of years that the team of 19 individuals ranging from vice presidents to executives started to regularly hit pause and talk big-picture strategy.

That’s when the Massachusetts credit union started participating in a program designed specifically to help credit union leadership teams focus on issues of strategic importance and become better equipped to tackle tough decisions and capitalize on the right opportunities.

Anne-Marie Bisson, VP of Marketing Financial Education, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union

Here, Anne-Marie Bisson, vice president of marketing and financial education for Jeanne D’Arc, talks about the benefits her team gained from its latest group exercise.

Pause To Take The Pulse

Jean D’Arc has been participating in Strategy Lab from Callahan Associates. The program helps credit union leaders carve out time for strategic discussion about the evolving marketplace.

Sessions like these force us to step away from the day-to-day, Bisson says. We were able to stop, take the pulse of our organization, and look at things differently.

Jean D’Arc Credit Union uses Strategy Lab from Callahan Associates to guide senior-level discussion about the forces changing the credit union marketplace and how these will affect the business model in the future. Learn more today.

The credit union’s third lab this year helped the team realize that, though they meet monthly, they could benefit from spending more time together as a group discussing strategy.

In our typical monthly meetings, we talk about metrics and specific projects but not necessarily the types of deeper topics we discuss during the Strategy Lab sessions, Bisson says.

A New Perspective

Another key benefit from the session, according to Bisson, was that it changed the perspectives of the individual credit union leaders participating.

Like many financial institutions, we compare ourselves to others and look at details like checking account features or ATM fee rebates, Bisson says. We need to take a step back and have conversations with both members and non-members to understand what they want even if they aren’t quite sure themselves. There is something driving them a job they are trying to get done whether they know it or not.


This is the foundation of the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) Strategy Lab, which digs into the jobs members are trying to accomplish to help credit unions evaluate member service in a new light. And the lab isn’t afraid to explore the unknown.

For example, during Jeanne D’Arc’s JTBD session, the team considered scenarios in which the member only knows what they don’t want.

If I’m buying a car, I might know I don’t want a white car or a black car, but otherwise I don’t have a preference, Bisson says.

So what job is the member doing? Securing reliable, safe transportation at the best price. Understanding this gives the credit union a new lens into helping the member.

Wherever the member is in their journey or job to be done, the credit union can now benefit from looking at things from their perspective.

Think. Explore. Change.

According to Bisson, some of the thought-provoking questions posed by Strategy Lab consultants have caused her team to take pause. And in that setting, hesitation is acceptable.

Unlike a traditional meeting, where we are limited in our discussion or have a tight agenda to move through, Strategy Lab gives us the freedom to think before we answer, the VP says.

The sessions also give leaders room to think about how they might change their approach in ways that would give members what they are looking for as well as result in organizational growth.

This freedom challenges traditional thinking and teases better questions from leadership teams. In the case of Jeanne D’Arc, it spurred the team to consider how to streamline the flow of information between the front-line and senior team.

What Is Strategy Lab?

Push your leaders to identify topics vital to the institution and engage in discussion rooted in industry data and context. It’s time to think, talk, and act strategically. Contact Callahan to learn more about Strategy Lab and other team learning resources.


Sometimes we make assumptions based on what we think rather than going to the member, or our own front-line staff, and understanding their experience, Bisson says. Our branch and call center staff are the ones having conversations with members every day. They have a wealth of information, but do we ask them to share it? And do they feel comfortable doing so?

The Next Steps

Jeanne D’Arc has already started putting the JTBD concept to use. For example, it has surveyed members who have a Visa card to learn when they are pulling a card out of their wallet and why they are, or they are not, using the credit union’s card.

That’s one way we started the process, Bisson says.

The credit union has also identified a branching problem for an internal team to analyze.

We opened a branch a few years ago and would like to see more traffic there, Bisson says. We’re employing this philosophy to help us take action and uncover the Jobs To Be Done for the residents of this specific town.

As the team at Jeanne D’Arc charges ahead, Bisson has thoughts for how other credit unions can move forward, too.

It’s great to focus on the tasks at hand, but it’s more important to make sure we’re focusing on the right tasks, the senior leader says. This program helped us ensure we’re headed down the right path. Having the time to share ideas, focus on strategy and interact in a relaxed atmosphere was invaluable.

July 3, 2017

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