One of the most effective ways to build a successful organization is to emulate a successful organization. Apple is one of the most successful companies on the planet, and credit unions have much to learn from it.
Apple is arguably the most innovative company in the world. It is always doing something new and clever and is never satisfied with status quo. Apple doesn’t just raise the bar in innovation. Apple IS the bar in innovation.
Credit unions tend to spend less time innovating and more time duplicating the competition. How many times has your credit union introduced a new product or service because that’s what your competition did?
Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs once said, “There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love, 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very beginning. And we always will.”
Successful credit unions are not afraid to take risks. They are the ones who innovate. They are not afraid to fail every once in a while. Woody Allen says, ““If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.”
When is the last time your credit union offered a product or service that was new to the industry?
2. Find Your Steve Jobs
One person with great vision can be the difference between success and failure for any organization. In the mid 1980s, Steve Jobs left Apple – the company he founded – because of irreconcilable difference with the CEO he recruited to run the company. Jobs was gone for 11 years. So was his vision and so was employee morale.
Who is the Steve Jobs of your credit union? It doesn’t have to be the CEO (although it helps). Who leads, drives and articulates the credit union’s vision? Do people have someone to rally around? Is there someone more concerned about the members than their bonus check at the end of the year? Is there someone who eats, sleeps and breathes your credit union? Make that person visible. Give that person more responsibility. Follow that person’s direction.
3. Find Ambassadors
Apple doesn’t have customers. It has fans. Its users swear by Apple’s products. It’s almost like a cult. We need members like that. Most of us have members like that – members who feel that nobody gets them financially like their credit union does. Find them. Use them in your advertising. Have them tell their stories on your blogs and on Facebook. Ask them to speak at your Annual Meeting and other member events. Their testimonials will help you grow your credit union.
Apple’s success is no accident. It is the product of unique innovation, visionary leadership and a loyal fan base. Are you ready to put these practices to work at your credit union?