Originally posted on Credit Union Times 10/27/15
The thing about the truth is that sometimes it’s hard to hear. There’s no way around the truth. As much as we’d like to ignore it, doing so often results in disastrous outcomes.
People who run or manage organizations are not immune to the truth. The problem is too many so-called leaders still operate as if nothing is going on outside of their own four walls. These are the same people who wonder why their companies are not growing.
They try to figure it out on their own and get no answers. They’re terrified to let an objective 3rd party take a look at the situation. Heaven forbid, as a result of such an analysis, it may come up that there may be some areas where improvement is desperately needed.
There has to be some discussion about the inevitability of truth and the reality of the marketplace. I’m not talking about a fleeting message heard at conferences or training sessions. I’m talking about serious, honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred, jaw-dropping, hair-raising discussions at the organizational level.
To be frank, I’m tired of listening to the same nonsense about the way things used to be, people being “uncomfortable” with change, maintaining the status quo because it’s easier that way, etc. I’m exhausted with tales of CEOs being afraid to try new things because they’re afraid of losing their jobs. I’m sick of hearing about organizations refusing to make smart, relevant, and necessary strategic decisions because “the timing isn’t right” or “a fraction of our membership won’t respond to it.” I’m tired of hearing about Board members holding up progress by saying “no” to new ideas and services because they think that if they won’t use them, nobody else will. Mobile banking comes to mind. There are still some credit unions that are “thinking about it.” The time for thinking is over. You’re either going to get the technology (that is just expected now) or you’ll be closing your doors soon.
If we continue to ignore certain truths, things will only get worse. If we continue to accept only parts of reality instead of the entire reality, the things we can presently control will quickly move into the realm of that which is out of our control.
Here are some hard truths that companies and organizations and the people who manage them need to face:
Credit unions must adapt to the new forces at play in the marketplace. It’s not the other way around. You must go to the market because the days of business just walking in the door are over. If your business isn’t growing the way you’d like, one of the reasons might just be that your beliefs on the best ways to conduct business are no longer appropriate for the current marketplace. If you can’t recognize that knowing everyone’s name isn’t a top priority for today’s consumers, you need to rethink your strategy or at least do some research. No one is suggesting that you stop giving outstanding personalized service but you don’t work at Cheers. The truth is that the target market of consumers (Generation X and Millennials) want you to solve their problems. If you happen to know their names, that’s a bonus. But it isn’t necessary.
The “good old days” are exactly that….old. If your standards and methods are still anchored in the past, they aren’t doing any good and are most likely harming your enterprise. It’s good that some things never change; however, there are other things that simply must change. The “good old days” are gone. They’re never coming back. Let them go or step aside before it’s too late.
Not all credit unions are lagging behind! There are some organizations doing tremendous things and making smart strategic decisions! Unfortunately though, the hard truth is there are still entirely too many credit unions that spend a lot of time talking about the need to innovate and modernize but not nearly enough time taking meaningful action. Or they’re ignoring these critical realities altogether and hoping things will go back to the way things were.
Sometimes the truth makes us uncomfortable. If that discomfort results in taking action to address the reality, that’s not such a terrible thing, is it?