The four most important words for creating value at your credit union

Not too long ago, I adopted a four-word phrase that has evolved into a personal maxim, both on a professional and personal level. While I cannot recount the specific origins of this particular statement, the use of it has significantly increased in the past few months.

Now typically, I would carry on in some fashion in an attempt to build some tension with you, the reader, as to what these four most important words are in an effort to draw your further into the narrative.

But then, would I be creating value for you by going off on some semi-relevant but ultimately unnecessary tangent?

And that’s it, the phrase that is.

“Am I creating value?”


Each bank or credit union we have worked with in our Digital Marketing Blueprint engagements is different, whether that’s basic organizational characteristics, like assets or marketing staff size, to underlying issues, such as an executive team’s temperament towards digital marketing.

However, despite these organizational particularities (or deformities depending upon who you ask), common patterns emerge in our assessments.

One of those reoccurring trends involves the identification of numerous organizational activities that ultimately provide no value to the bank or credit union as a whole.

Yet when probing for the underlying reasons as to why these activities persist within the organization, we typically hear some variance of the following phrase: “This is the way we’ve always done it.”


While it doesn’t make for the strongest acronym, this statement is pretty much the antithesis of “Am I creating value?”

Granted, it’s highly likely that these processes yielded some positive impact when initially implemented. But as other projects took priority, these tasks became another entry into the ever-growing weekly “To Do” list. Days soon turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and soon the initial inspiration and motivations behind these processes were lost to Father Time. Eventually, these tasks morphed into muscle memory for the financial institution as it was completed without staff ever stopping to re-evaluate its benefit for the organization.

To modify a quote from the famous, yet fictitious, Jurassic Park mathematician Ian Malcolm, “Your credit union staff was so preoccupied with their current processes that they didn’t stop to think if they should be doing them.”

And this leads to another negative byproduct of this mentality. We find bank and credit union staff are maxed to capacity with all of their various responsibilities.

Yet as we share in both our Digital Marketing Blueprints as well as Digital Marketing Boot Camps, being busy is not being successful.

Success is found in intent.

As we explain to our clients, this is not just symptomatic of the financial services industry. It’s not even limited to businesses and organizations. On an individual level, we can easily find ourselves in a rut of routine as we slog through the daily grind.

Creating Value From Chaos

Humans are habitual creatures. For a majority of us, we crave routine. Outside yearly annual vacations to a tropical beach to break up the monotony of life, which oddly enough are routine in and of itself, we fall into the routine and rhythm of life.

And the frantic pace of life does not typically permit introspection and inquiring. It’s only when an outside force beyond our control interrupts the status quo and forces us to re-evaluate the minutiae we deem so important on a daily basis. While those unwelcome circumstances are rarely pleasant, the events can propel us forward to assess our daily rituals from a fresh perspective and take inventory of what we truly value in life.

As we sort through the debris of this chaos, we tend to develop new attitudes and customs that differ greatly from the way we’ve been operating. In other words, we attempt to rectify the mistakes of the past and engage in activities that create lasting value after the trauma of loss.

And through this journey of transformation, we will experience pain as we find that change can be painful when we make the tough decisions and question the value of our actions. But as painful as change may be, it is required if we are to continue growing both personally as an individual as well as together as an organization.

Think of it this way: if change and growth were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Now am I saying that you or your credit union must intentionally be thrust into the fires of trials and tribulations for behavior modification to occur?

Not necessarily, but sometimes those situations do arise.

This is why it is important to continue to be aware of the changing consumer shopping behavior that is primarily fueled by advances in digital and mobile technologies.

So what can you do? Here are just a few ideas to help identify if you’re creating value in your professional or personal life.

Follow the Binary Workflow. This tactic is the easiest to implement. And best of all, it is free. Before beginning a certain task, whether professional or personal, ask yourself, “Am I creating value?” It’s a simple binary workflow as you will answer yes (1) or no (0). If it passes this initial litmus test, you may carry on. However, if your activity fails this simple workflow, it may be necessary to pursue further examination as to why this process failed and if there are modifications you can make to yield value.

Creating Space. Another method for evaluating the value created by the tasks you are currently implementing is to simply create space from your daily routine. Now, the cliche response is to recommend you to drive a different route to your office in the morning. While research has shown this to be an effective way to helping us break free from monotony, my recommendation would be to create a technological sabbath day. We have conditioned ourselves to accept the unnatural glowing blue light of our devices. Some of us cannot even go to the restroom without taking our smartphone with us… or so I hear. While technology is the modern day plow, we can be overly reliant on our devices. Taking a break from our technological wizardry provides the opportunity to think without distraction and spend time discovering insights through internal reflection and personal observation.

Getting a Fresh Perspective From an Unbiased, Objective Third Party. At an organizational level, it’s sometimes beneficial to employ the skills of a third party to assess your current strategy and operations to provide insight and recommendations on how you can improve your operational inefficiencies. As these third parties do not have the burden of being jaded by the internal politics and inter-departmental challenges, they can provide your credit union fresh with fresh perspectives and recommendations on specific tasks that truly provide the organization value.

Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

As Senior  Advisor at CU Grow, Jonathan Lay helps banks and credit unions use digital marketing to tell stories that sell. He brings over a decade of digital marketing experience ... Web: Details