When a company or organization dies, one commonality among the majority is comfort. As I type this, I’m mighty comfy sitting in my plant room in my vintage Woodard rocking chair overlooking my garden. That’s not the kind of comfort I’m talking about though. It’s the comfort that comes from never changing a thing within your credit union because you may fail, which is not comfortable, and change is uncomfortable.
You stop listening to your members. You stop trying new things. You stop looking at the data because you know it’s going to scream, “you need to change.” Death isn’t immediate. Hey, your capital is above 9% and you still have positive net income, but your credit union’s vital signs are starting to beat slower and slower.
I often wonder how a credit union leader can let a once vibrant organization that did so much good for people die a slow death and be ok with taking away that opportunity to help the next generation. But it’s not about the credit union, it’s about them (the leader) and their comfort. It’s about making it to retirement and not rocking the boat. The once necessary initiative, creativity, and risk-taking that got the credit union to where it is today are removed and replaced with comfort.
Research shows that this doesn’t happen in a single day or even over a long span of time. A period of 305 years of comfort and lack of change will allow the rigor to start setting in. But it doesn’t have to be. In the many credit union marketing engagements and strategic planning sessions I’ve facilitated in the last decade-plus, here are three observations I’ve seen from comfortable, dying credit unions:
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