GENERAL, THINK CONFERENCE / By Bill Prichard Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications
A week after THINK 13 came to a close, we’re still thinking about what we learned. Among the new features at this year’s conference was live audience polling. Through a dedicated THINK 13 app and an online polling site, THINKers registered their opinions about change and disruption – giving us not only a temperature reading on how THINKers feel about change in general, but also how those feelings changed throughout the conference.
The big takeaway: THINKers are all about change. A full 80 percent of poll respondents believed the following statement to be true: “The tidal wave is on its way. Credit unions must respond to disruptive change with disruptive changes.” Similarly, 77 percent said credit unions need more disruptive change: “Disrupt or be disrupted” was how they voted. In the same poll, fewer than 7 percent thought credit unions did not need to embrace disruption (and instead should focus on what they do well); about 16 percent took the middle ground, saying credit unions should “respond to change as it happens.”
These are big votes for big change, and even we were surprised by the intensity of the results. We’re also curious: Are THINKers representative of the credit union movement? Or are THINKers more game for change than the average credit union leader?
Throughout THINK 13, thoughtful ideas and fresh approaches to change took the stage. In past conferences, we’ve focused on creativity – on finding inspiration and new ideas. This time we shifted that focus slightly and took a closer look at execution and turning ideas into reality. Our polling seemed to validate that shift. Given the opportunity to choose three top impediments to change, poll respondents said “fear” most often (at 28 percent), followed by “resources” (21 percent) and “risk” (17 percent). Only 3 percent of voters cited “lack of ideas” as a barrier to change.
THINKers aren’t short on inspiration. Only 4 percent thought defaulting to the status quo was a primary change issue facing credit unions. The top three responses to our polling question about how credit unions need to change:
- Credit unions have an amazing story. Let’s tell it. (35 percent)
- Our story is great. We need new ways to connect. (31 percent)
- We need a new story. It’s time for a breakthrough. (30 percent)
THINKers began the conference with a bias toward change. Our first poll, on Day 1, showed 24 percent were for massive change, 28 percent for measured change and nearly 48 percent thought credit unions need a little of both. By the end of the conference, massive changers represented nearly 30 percent of voters, with measured changers clocking in at 17 percent and “a little of both” representing a majority at 52 percent.
The takeaway? THINKers are primed for change. They want to know how to find the resources and manage the risk, so that fear is less of a factor. They want new stories to tell and new ways to tell their stories. They want to carry the spirit of change forward into the months to come, so that they’re better equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly-evolving world – or maybe even to push that evolution in new directions.
For the THINKers here at CO-OP, the challenge now is to keep finding new ways to help credit unions live up to that spirit throughout the year. If you’re ready to keep THINKing, check out this series of leadership webinars, brought to you by CO-OP and the brilliant THINKers at Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates (maybe you caught their Industry Impact Session on “Hunger Games Leadership” or Dr. Brandi Stankovic’s smart turn as an expert in the Disruption Challenge at THINK 13). Look for expanded coverage on the debate between massive and measured change in THINK Magazine (click here to sign up).
And get ready for THINK 14 – in fact, you can register for the Insider Rate of $199 through August 31 at www.co-opthink.org. Like change and the need for disruptive thinking in the credit union movement, it’s coming.