Adapting to a changing membership: A few suggestions for credit union board members

Albert Einstein described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While that quote isn’t new to any of us, most of us are guilty of putting forth old ideas and expecting new outcomes  …  not a successful recipe for adapting to the changing needs of members.

To fully understand adapting to change, we need to accept (please note: I didn’t say “embrace”) and understand that change is inevitable. Likewise, change is manageable. Wikipedia presents this succinct explanation: change management is an approach to shifting/transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. I added the emphasis on the last three words … “desired future state.”

Now we’re getting somewhere: focusing on the future is the starting point for adapting to change, including changes that come as a result of a shifting membership. And, adopting a forward-thinking attitude fits perfectly within the role of a volunteer board member since setting clear direction for management, including a strategic vision, is one of the most important jobs of a credit union board (if not the most important).

So we’ve established that “change happens,” and that the starting point for effectively managing change is to focus on your desired endpoint … now what? Well, now is the time to make some adjustments to your board’s routines to ensure that you can adapt to meet your changing membership’s needs. Here are four steps that can make a huge difference in the way you look at your credit union and the world.

1. Review Your Strategic Plan At Every Board Meeting

Yes, you read that correctly! Include the strategic plan as a part of your board agenda. Ask questions of your CEO to ensure that they are moving the credit union in the direction that you intended and be willing to make mid-year adjustments to your plan. Let’s be realistic, often what seems to be a really great idea during the strategic planning process may not pan out … determine that quickly and move on.

2. Become A Life-Long Learner

Don’t just be satisfied with the “same-old, same-old” approach to things. Actively search out new approaches and different perspectives. Take advantage of the resources you have at hand.

  • Engage community leaders at your board meetings—encourage them to join your
    conversations so you can learn what’s going on in your field of membership.
  • Invite students to your board meetings and ask them what’s trending in their population. Be willing to listen and include their ideas in your decision-making.
  • Attend conferences and chapter meetings to network with other credit union board members and learn what’s going on in their shop.
  • Visit websites dedicated to board education.

3. Find And Follow Good Examples        

Incorporate the best practices that you learn from community leaders, students, other CU board members, and conferences into your board’s culture.

4. Adopt A Consent Agenda

The purpose of a consent agenda is to free discussion from administrative details and repetitious discussions with intent toward better governance by
allowing more time for strategic discussion.

Adapting to a changing membership requires a governance structure that encourages forward-thinking. By simply shifting your focus from the past to the future, you will alter your inputs and likely move away from the cycle of insanity so aptly described by one of the brightest minds in the history of mankind.

Tracie Kenyon

Tracie Kenyon

Tracie Kenyon is President/CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network, the Trade Association for Montana’s credit unions and credit union organizations. She is currently the chair of the ... Web: www.mcun.org Details

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