Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One Foot in the Future

By: Robert N. Trunzo

One of my professors used to say, “You’ve got to have one foot in the present, and one foot in the future.” As a CEO, this statement couldn’t be more relevant in today’s competitive landscape, where consumers are demanding more convenient products and services—and they have more choices than ever.

And let me make it clear: when consumers are judging how financial services institutions serve them, they’re not comparing us with the bank down the street, or with other insurance companies. They’re comparing us with the biggest, brightest, best brands out there.

So, we know we must focus on providing solutions that address our customers’ needs.

At CUNA Mutual Group, we’re going through our own transformation to remain relevant to the credit unions and consumers we serve today. We’re looking to the future and embracing innovation and disruption. Here are a few things we’ve learned along our journey:

Stay flexible.
We continuously challenge ourselves to create, innovate and invest in new ideas to help credit unions grow and help people achieve financial security. By partnering with credit unions across the country to co-develop products, we’re helping them solve their biggest challenges from their perspective, not ours.
 We recognize the need to stay flexible, while testing and learning along the way. Making adjustments throughout the process based on feedback we collect ensures we’re developing products that our customers really want.

Respect failure and embrace it.
Building agile methodology into the DNA of CUNA Mutual Group is no easy feat for our 83 year-old insurance company. But we’ve seen that this iterative way of working has trained us to test and react quickly and ultimately develop products and services faster.
While we’re asking employees to move faster, we’re also recognizing that it’s okay to fail. When something doesn’t go right in a project or during a sprint, we revisit the problem, tackle it again, and walk away learning something.

Keep an eye on the horizon.
Looking to the future can be tough, especially when there is so much to manage in the day-to-day. But it’s necessary to keep up in our fast-paced world. For instance, your biggest competitor could be one that doesn’t even exist yet.

For us, we saw an emerging opportunity in data and analytics a few years ago. Instead of ignoring the trend, we embraced it and thought about ways we could deliver these capabilities for credit unions. We made a significant investment in our data and analytics business, AdvantEdge Analytics. We now have 150 employees dedicated to helping credit unions deliver a better member experience through actionable data insights.

Throughout our journey at CUNA Mutual Group, I’ve learned that success is not a straight line. In business, it is critical to stay flexible and resilient, and it is vital that you keep learning – from your failures as well as your wins. Navigating this ever-changing world and meeting our customers’ needs requires walking with one foot in the present and one foot in the future.

Hear more about this in a recent podcast discussion I had with John Janclaes, CEO, Partners Federal Credit Union.