Cooking up a core business and core technology recipe

“It’s not good and it’s making me feel gross!”

This was my 7 year old son’s recent proclamation at the dinner table, as my wife, son, and I awkwardly confronted the truth that my wife’s pasta dish was not a success.

What followed my son’s honest observation was a constructive conversation about how we might make the pasta taste better, enlightening dialog about dealing with something when it ‘isn’t working,’ and an open exchange about whether any part of the overall dish ‘worked’ for us.  

A couple days later it occurred to me many credit unions would benefit from an honest “the pasta dish sucks” conversation amongst their executive team relative to the ingredients they’re perennially forced to purchase to cook up and support their strategic initiatives they serve to their members.

What if your vendor relationships are essentially the same as a pasta dish?  Let’s call it “the spaghetti pile of vendors and platforms.” Is the pasta dish of platforms around which your members and employees gather to work each day ‘working’ for you, your credit union, your members, and your core strategy?  Is your core strategy supported by solid core technology ingredients?  Or, are you just choking down the ingredients contributing to the products/services you’re trying to cook up, year after year?  

Are you event chef!? Perhaps you’re being served by a kitchen staff avoiding the awkward conversations about the quality, freshness, and general preparation of those ingredients and their ability to contribute to your final dish/product?

The problem impacting many core business strategies in credit unions is simple: piled up platforms.

Platforms are the ingredients we’ve all purchased for the last 25 years to toss into the pans of our strategic plans; they’re the noodles, sauce, spices, and such we’ve slapped around our core technologies.

Two decades after the onset of our current internet and the digital banking services era, most credit unions have cooked up dishes that look something like the following:

What if my son hadn’t been present with his naïve and useful candor?  

My guess is my wife would have tried to make the pasta dish again.

My son cut to the core of the issue; and as soon as he did, we were all relieved that we could make a plan to avoid repeating that meal!  That’s a strategy for success!!

I’m not saying the entire dish was a loss.  The meat in the sauce was good. That’s about it.  Uncovering that useful bit of data required a process of analysis around our table.  We figured out we’d keep the sausage.

Just because the sausage was the only redeemable core of the dish doesn’t mean we jumped to blaming the tomato farmer, or the sausage manufacturer, or the noodle producer for the lack of operational execution in my kitchen!

Don’t blame your core.  Figure out whether it can contribute to solving the problem, whether it can help craft a more elegant, modern, and enjoyable dish to deliver to your members, employees, etc.

Don’t toss out the noodles in the spaghetti pile before you understand whether they’re still supporting your strategy.  After all, you may have a good reason to continue serving up some of the noodles to your members and employees.  However, you may have some excess pasta on the plate which is translating into the excess economic expenditures and the excess expenditure of energy spent to cook and consume it.  You won’t know this until you have the candid conversation about the ingredients, chat with the cooks, and agree on what ingredients will economically, technologically, and operationally support your core business strategy.

It’s important to realize here that core business strategy is not the same as your core technology decision(s).  The latter is the composite of ingredients you need, the former is your recipe and plan to serve a dish to your members, employees, etc.  Your core ingredients support your core business strategy, and your core business strategy should drive your plan for your core ingredients.  Don’t let your dinner table succumb to the awkward silence of choking down a bad meal; don’t waste good ingredients; and don’t jump to blaming the tomato farmer or noodle maker for another bad dinner.

Put together a modern plan for relevant delivery of delicious digital banking experiences using a synthetic core strategy and core technology recipe.

We call this “platform mapping.”

It’s the process of going through your kitchen, pantry, and current pasta dishes to identify the ingredients supporting the menu of products/services you deliver to your members and credit union.

It’s the operational, technological, and economic equivalent of the my son’s 7-year-old candor which saved our family from another instance of that pasta dish and allowed us to avoid wasting good money and time on another mediocre experience.

With a little candid conversation and some clever data and analysis, you can avoid serving your members a nasty and outdated “spaghetti pile,” and you can dish out modern digital experiences which align with your core technology capabilities and your core business strategies.

The alternative is another year and budget spent on, “It’s not good, and it’s making me feel gross!”

Jon Ungerland

Jon Ungerland

Jon believes that local financial institutions can contribute to the flourishing of democracy and the quality of community life by ensuring fair and affordable access to capital and modern banking ... Web: Details