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Appetite for Disruption
Friday, May 20, 2016 6:45 AM

Jeff Rendel

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Peer-to-peer lending. Alternative depositories, lenders, and currencies. Digital delivery and wearable technology with payments apps. All cases of tangible, existing, and disruptive influences to your credit union’s business model.

Disruption is here to stay, and it always has been (remember the arrival of money market accounts, variable-rate mortgages, and that unfeeling, faceless ATM?).

Credit union directors and executives realize that disruption and change is relentless. While the business model of deposits and loans can provide profits, directors and executives also recognize that fine-tuning for the future parallels remaining relevant for today. It requires an appetite for disruption. To lead their strategic adaptations, credit unions need to be their own agents of change and forces of disruption.

Getting your board on board with new strategies and ways of serving your members requires the chair and CEO to demonstrate the value of new ideas and how they improve more than just financial objectives; they improve a range of growth and relevancy objectives.

Here are four ways to gain buy-in for your credit union’s do-it-yourself commitment to disruption.

  1. Be a sounding board. As directors, you want what’s best for your members; it’s a must for an evolving credit union. With your CEO, craft a boardroom dynamic that is aligned with your vision yet receptive to disruption. Ask your CEO to frequently update, discuss, and introduce new ideas that add value to your credit union. As a board, convey your support to your CEO through your readiness to listen to and provide fresh ideas, lend assurance to current and new directions, and give disruptive concepts a tailwind of backing for outstanding execution.
  2. Uphold a spirit of experimentation. One CEO described his board’s support of disruption and intentional change as, “…self-administered inoculation. We’re used to it now.” Promote the notion of constantly experimenting with new ideas and making small changes along the way. Get to know managers and executives who act as internal change agents. Your board benefits as it understands practical change from the experiences of those working daily on your credit union’s future. 
  3. Look outside the credit union. Consumer trends and expectations tell a story, regardless of industry. Technological advances reach beyond Silicon Valley. What are these changes, how do they affect your credit union, and what do your members expect? Your credit union has the opportunity to match your delivery with forward-thinking products, services, and experiences. Your board’s awareness of consumer changes gives it an appreciation for agility, allowing your credit union to meet disruption with a plan for action.
  4. Know the numbers and the stories. Disruption leads to change and change is monitored to gauge success. Your board’s fiduciary responsibility requires that it balance risk with reward, all with an eye toward safety and soundness. As your board reviews the quantitative and financial data of operations and major initiatives, don’t overlook the qualitative and first-hand evidence that tells the stories of your members’ successes with your disruptive changes on their behalf. Your board witnesses success in the financial statements, but also in the lives of the members it represents.

The business of your credit union is completely different than it was 10 years ago. And 10 years from now, it will entirely change again. Disruption has a permanent place in your credit union. An appetite for disruption has a permanent place in your board room. Serve your members well today by creating the credit union they will expect tomorrow. 

Jeff Rendel, certified speaking professional and president of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy. Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners. For more information, contact or visit