When I first became CEO of my credit union a few years ago, I was overwhelmed by the daunting task before me. The credit union had always had a rich history of servicing its members, but had struggled for the greater part of the previous five years with declining loan growth, increasing delinquencies, and dismal performance in terms of net income. Needless to say, future uncertainty equated to many sleepless nights as I pondered what was to be done and where to begin.
In 2017, I wrote an article entitled, “The fellowship of uncertainty,” in which I shared my belief that organizational change amounts to four basic principles: communication, personal and individual visits, sharing and inspiring vision, and instilling confidence in your team. A few months later, I followed-up with “Anyone can cook,” in which I further iterated that creating a culture of excellence is found in the belief that good ideas can come from all levels of the organization, and that leaders should create an atmosphere of inclusion in which all feel comfortable sharing feedback. Over the last few years, our management team has sought diligently to instill those ideals throughout our culture, and as a result, has witnessed superb outcomes in personal and organizational performance, including declining delinquency, increasing loan growth, more efficient operations, a more content staff, and an over 500% change in net income.
But I’d be lying if I said it were easy to implement the changes necessary for success. In fact, we still have a long journey before us! During this experience however, we discovered an increasingly important ideal. Consider the following:
5 + 5 = ?
At first glance, the equation is simple…the answer is undoubtedly 10. In fact, it’s so simple you may be thinking, “Is this a trick question…I mean what else could be the answer?!” 5 + 5 has and will always equal 10. It’s a mathematical fact and can never be altered right?
On the surface, you would indeed be correct. 5 + 5 has and will always equal 10. However, depending on which side of the equation you choose to focus; can have great implications on its solving. As we came to more fully understand the obstacles of implementing lasting change throughout all levels of the credit union, we learned just how true that is. When looking for a particular answer, in this case how to safely and effectively do an about face on performance, many were tempted to say, “We have and will always do it this way.” In other words, “We refuse to change the variables, yet hope to see a different outcome.” Albert Einstein said it best, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By failing to consider the equation from different perspectives, or different variables, you can seriously jeopardize the desired outcome. After all, 5 + 5 can’t equal anything other than 10.
Now, what if we were to look at the same equation, but from a different perspective? Consider it in this way:
? + ? = 10
In both scenarios, we want the same answer…to implement lasting and sustainable change that will improve ourselves, our people, and our organization. However, success or failure is determined by your focus on the correct variables. We may limit ourselves to the way things have always been done, or we may open our minds to nearly limitless possibilities.
When faced with decision, never limit yourself to one variable. This simple mathematical equation can revolutionize the way you view your world. Life is full of endless possibilities. Embrace that concept, and you’ll be well on your way to personal and organizational transformation beyond what you thought possible.