Act Like a Shark: Keep Moving

Businesses are like sharks: If they don’t move, they die.

April 06, 2011
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Businesses are like sharks: If they don’t move, they die.

Stagnant credit unions, or those “at rest,” risk suffering a similar fate.

That’s one reason the theme of this year’s CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference was “innovation.”

You may think you don't have enough time, money, or people to innovate. That’s not necessarily true.

“Less” can be a good thing. Limited resources can force us to be more creative.

You may think of innovation as an extreme, equating it with invention. But radical innovation isn’t required. Incremental innovation is.

Consider this definition of innovation from Market Insights:

“Innovation is a new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.”

By this definition, innovation can be enormous or miniscule. Either way, credit unions must innovate to survive.

Some thoughts to consider about innovation:

Move somewhere else

Some competitive strategies restrict marketers and business development professionals to frame their market in traditional, competitive terms—anchoring them to the same structure, system, and markets as their competitors.

A better strategy may be to go where others aren’t.

Sam Walton's profitable strategy for Wal-Mart, for example, was to go where no competitor would dream of going: To towns seemingly too small to support a large discount store.

This “go where they aren’t” strategy also fueled McGladrey & Pullen, one of the nation's largest accounting firms. With Big Six firms dominating America's largest cities, McGladrey focused on being the only national accounting firm in much smaller cities.

Southwest Airlines followed a similar strategy and redefined its market.

Ponder this: Are you anchored by traditional “competitive strategies?”

Next: What business are you really in?

Be flexible with change

Marcy Stark
April 06, 2011 12:51 pm
Great article. It's important to move forward, make decisions, and execute new ideas to grow and survive in the financial arena. The key is not to depend on what we've always done but be flexible and ready for change.

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Ken Schroeder, CBCP, VP Business Continuity, Southeast Corporate
April 20, 2011 10:38 am
Remember--to be successful: Maintain a Rigid State of Flexibility

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April 20, 2011 11:22 am
Wonderful article Michelle. I started in the credit union industry in 1997 in the middle of HR 1151 – even with all the uncertainty surrounding us, we managed to keep moving. Perseverance and innovation were the driving factors that helped us to do more with less. Over the past year, I have seen that same creativity reignited. Credit union marketers and business development professionals are working harder than ever. Just looking at this year’s CUNA Diamond award winners is a testament to the amazing work that can be accomplished even in times of adversity. Congratulations to you and to all who are “fulfilling dreams.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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