REACH: Disruptive Innovation for CUs

REACH 2016 inspired attendees to take the concept of “disruption innovation” back to their credit unions and begin implementing small, actionable steps to better the lives of their employees and members—as well as prepare for the future (click here for photo gallery).

This year the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual convention drew 800 credit union, vendor, and special guest attendees to continue the conversation about what the next 5-10 years holds for financial services and how credit unions can act nimbly through the change.

Wednesday: Cirque and President's Report
One of the best ways for an organization to invest in human capital comes down to being conscious of what employees really need, considerate of every staff member on the team, and compatible with the brand, according to the opening general session keynote speaker on Wednesday.

“People get human capital investment confused with perks,” said Jay Guilford—content strategist, corporate leadership coach, and creator of Cirque du Soleil’s SPARK Sessions. “Human capital investment has got to be organic and genuine.”

Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra thanked credit unions in both states for cooperating together as a movement to achieve better financial outcomes for their members in 2016. Additionally, Inland Valley FCU CEO Chuck Papenfus, outgoing chairman of the California League, and Greater Nevada CU CEO Wally Murray, outgoing chairman of the Nevada League, thanked everyone for support during 2015-2016. Valley First CU CEO Hank Barret was elected as new chairman of the California League and WestStar CU CEO Rick Schmidt elected as new chairman of the Nevada League.

Futurist Mike Walsh—CEO of Tomorrow and consumer innovation-technology expert—launched into his vision of what the future will probably look like for consumers and workers in the post-Millennial cohort age, also know as “NextGen” or the “AI generation” (artificial intelligence): a time of data-driven experiences and decisions.

“For all this talk of technology and disruption, it’s the human perspective that’s missing,” he said. “We are profoundly changing our behavior. How will you need to change your credit union for the next generation? Our ability to understand people’s experiences will be key to the future of our companies.”

Thursday: Google Architect on ‘NextGen’
Loren Hudziak—solutions architect for Google and mobile-search technology pioneer—shared his “mental model” insights during the Thursday morning general session, saying credit unions can home-in on their members’ “human intent” instead of general characteristics when looking to better serve their needs.

“If you want to effectuate change in your credit union, there has to be some galvanizing fact that shifts the way you see things,” Hudziak said. “It’s paramount that you challenge the way you think about how you do things internally and how you serve your members.”

Regarding the company’s core search-engine function, “we can’t look at just demographics anymore,” Hudziak said. “We have to find out people’s intent. We used to say ‘mobile first’ all the time. Now we’re saying ‘mobile only’ and ‘AI first’ (artificial intelligence). It all goes back to the ‘mental model’ and finding out what your members’ intent is, and their relationship to you.”

Friday: ‘Business Rockstars’ and ‘Fearless Leadership’
Some credit union leaders might be “too comfortable where they’re at” instead of instigating change to take better control their future, according to “Business Rockstars” and Media Entertainment Technology Alpha Leaders (MET-al) co-founder Ken Rutkowski, one of the keynote speakers on Friday.

They, too, can take small steps to becoming “disruptive innovators” in the financial services industry. “You need to disrupt yourself in order to move forward—and if you’re not, you are stagnating,” he said. “The question isn’t ‘if’ disruption is coming, it’s ‘when.’ If you’re forced to change, you’re behind the eight-ball, but if you’re open to change you are ahead of the game.”

Disruptive companies today are defining their “moon shot”: an analogy for what it takes to “get to the moon” in their respective industries using basic thought-out steps. Once you define your credit union’s moon shot, you’ll want to “create a moon-shot factory.”

Carey Lohrenz, former F-14 Tomcat aviator and author of “Fearless Leadership,” gave attendees invaluable tips for “getting big wins with the team you have at hand and not the team you get to pick.” The former U.S. Navy fighter pilot discussed building a team under extraordinary stress, and keeping your team on track when the unexpected happens.

Lohrenz intrigued attendees by her experience. Her “office” was a $45 million fighter jet for several years, and her aircraft squadron was 250-300 U.S. Marine and Navy personnel operating with a budget of $1 billion annually, which gave her immense physical and mental perspective on business and life.

“Catalysts are people who, no matter what their experience has been, can adjust and innovate and be flexible,” she said. “The quicker you can do these things, the more options you have. When you’re leading people in a complex environment, whether or not a team knows its primary purpose is the number-one determination of outward success.”

Chapter Forum
The Chapter Forum—facilitated by Rita Fillingane, vice president of Research and Collaboration at the Leagues—started immediately following REACH 2016, kicked off at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4 with a great networking reception. Holly Duckworth, CEO of Leadership Solutions International, presented the opening session on the topic of “Crl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Chapter for Success.” Attendees were thoroughly engaged as they thought through different aspects of how they can challenge themselves with looking at chapter programs differently.

Duckworth’s presentation was followed by the Chapter Awards reception. Andrea Svoboda, manager of Political Advocacy at the Leagues, presented the Highest Political Action Committee (PAC) Amount Raised to the Greater Valley Chapter who raised $42,817, and the Highest Percentage of PAC Goal to the San Diego/Imperial Valley Chapter who achieved 570 percent. Tena Lozano, Executive Director of the RMJ Foundation presented the RMJ highest dollar amount to the San Diego/Imperial Valley Chapter for $4,819, and highest percentage of goal to Nevada Northern Chapter at 222 percent. The All Star Chapter Awards of excellence went to Tracy Arroyo (Tri-County Chapter), Tina Covington (Tri-County Chapter), Marvel Ford (Greater Valley Chapter), and Steve Larranaga (East Bay Chapter). Additionally there were 11 All Star Chapters which included Channel, East Bay, Mount Diablo, Northern Nevada, Southern Nevada, Orange County, and Sacramento Valley, San Diego/Imperial County, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Tri-County.

During the reception, excitement swelled when everyone was told to find the colored dot on the back of their name tags and were summarily placed in a group. They were informed that their group activity was to attend a show in Las Vegas: “Michael Jackson One”, “O”, or “Beatles Love” by Cirque de Solei. After the exuberant jump for joy the group left for the evening.

The next day’s agenda started with a networking breakfast then launched into “Best Practices” discussions. The afternoon session “Lessons from the Circus,” presented by Larry Palochik, senior vice president Member Solutions at the Leagues, and Mark Klinkert, vice president of Professional Solutions, asked everyone to translate their experiences from the previous evening into actionable solutions. Enthusiastic participants started commenting right away regarding the Cirque du Soleil experience…”Why are we afraid of change when we know that we are not going to die?” “What’s interesting (about Cirque) is the trust they had in each other; teamwork was key.” “Everyone had to be in the right place at the right time for success.” “What resonated is that if one person falls the show doesn’t stop, it just keeps on going.

“Everyone was excited about the exercise, as it brought us together (the chapter leaders) as a team, we were all on the same page,” said Rob Greaff, CEO of Delta Schools FCU.

Many other attendees shared the same sentiment: “This got us out of our comfort zone,” said Marvel Ford, senior vice president, risk management officer at California CU. “It presented a new perspective for us.”


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