We just returned from spending the week of Thanksgiving at the Oregon coast with my brother and nieces. The trip was originally scheduled to be a three-generation endeavor with family coming in from all parts of the country to celebrate being able to be in person after two years apart.
When we booked it during the first week of January 2021, we wanted to have something to look forward to in the latter part of the year and crossed our fingers that we’d all get vaccinated before the trip.
In the spring, vaccinations came quickly for all of us and our Thanksgiving trip looked to be a lock. Then the Delta variant hit over the summer and some health issues arose in the eldest generation. We were questioning if the trip was still advisable in the fall, but as our cancelation period ended, we committed to making the trip happen. It was going to be epic!
Two weeks before we left, one member of the eldest generation was hospitalized and after a four-day stay was discharged. Two days at home, they felt extremely fatigued and yes, you guessed it, two days before they were to get on a plane, they tested positive for COVID-19. Our three-generation trip, had been redefined yet again, as one of just two generations. It was not the trip we’d planned or hoped for, but we made due and learned a lot about ourselves and our ability to innovate, connect and be present.
With everything over the last few years, the skill most needed by us individually and our organizations is the ability to bounce back. Or as I like to think of it, learning to bounce forward. Here are three lessons learned from our Oregon coast trip:
- Roll with It – Our coast house was awesome! Beautiful views, lots of comfortable room for all of us and a kitchen with high-end appliances. However, early in our stay we learned there are some things that we as a family see as essential in kitchen equipment that others do not. My brother’s specialty meal is homemade pizza and as he was preparing this for us the first evening, we discovered that there wasn’t a rolling pin in the house. My clever brother reached for a bottle of wine and rolled out the dough for our pizzas. Innovation in action!
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be willing to roll with it. Serving our members, taking care of our employees, helping in our communities all look very different than they did in 2019. Now is a great time to take stock of where you’ve been as an organization, where you want to go and understand what tools you have at the ready to bounce forward. What are your little opportunities to innovate and make a better experience for your members? What’s your wine bottle rolling pin? Stay flexible and embrace creative solutions to the problems at hand.
- Take a Closer Look – Early on the first morning of our stay on the Coast, my husband and I were having coffee in the primary bedroom that had a balcony with a great view out to the water. My husband pointed down at the beach and said “Look at all the rocks there, no, wait, are those seals? Oh goodness, they aren’t moving! Dead seals?” He then grabbed the binoculars and much to our delight saw that it was a large group of very much alive seals, they were just waking up and moving slowly as they started their day.
As you close out 2021 take a closer look at your member experience in two areas: digital and payments. The pandemic has given most members a nudge in the digital direction. How can you harness that momentum and solidify that behavior? Where are your gaps in the digital experience and how can you keep incrementally improving it? As for payments, the closer look needs to be on the option that consumers are seeing just about everywhere right now, buy-now-pay-later. Understand this payment method and devise a strategy to remain relevant and compete.
- Try New Things – My 13 and nine-year-old nieces are picky eaters. I know all kids can be, but these two have very narrow lanes on short roads. The highlights for them at Thanksgiving are the plain mashed potatoes and the rolls. The 13-year-old was pushed out of her narrow lane over the summer when she played on a traveling softball team where if you didn’t eat what was served, you didn’t eat. She got brave this year at Thanksgiving and tried a bite of everything. Pronouncing loudly at the table that “gravy is good!” Of course, it is! And it’s even better on your mashed potatoes! Life-altering lesson learned for her at the Thanksgiving table this year.
Trying new things is hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone, can feel risky and perhaps worst of all, there is a chance that by trying something new you and your credit union may fail. Success and failure are a package deal. You cannot fail if you don’t try. Conversely, you can’t grow if you don’t either. What’s your ‘gravy is good’ lesson? What’s the one new thing that your credit union is going to try in 2022? Try new things, but make sure to stay within the boundaries of your strategy and your values, vision and mission. Also, your new thing should be measurable and repeatable. Take the leap, measure how high and then record what you did so your next leap can be even better.
It’s been a bumpy ride over the last two years and it is looking like a similarly bumpy road ahead. Your abilities to roll with it, take a closer look and try new things are the foundation for you and your organization to handle the ambiguity in a positive fashion and ultimately learn to bounce forward.