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So Many Shiny Objects, So Little Time
Monday, January 25, 2016 6:30 AM

If the Shiny Object Syndrome is influencing your credit union, executive team, and board, here’s a surefire way to whip it: embrace the Shiny Object Syndrome, but only for a little while.

The late Steve Jobs was known to bring together his top 100 executives for a retreat each year to flesh out and refine new ideas for Apple’s future. During one session, he would give his executives an assignment: draw up a list of ten strategic ideas that Apple should be doing next. Jobs would take to the white board and write down all of his executives’ thoughts. After much jockeying and lots of ideas crossed off this list, the group would finalize a list of 10. As Jobs looked over the list, he would insist that Apple could only focus on three.

When asked if he was proud of what Apple chose to do, Jobs would reply in the affirmative, but further emphasize that he was equally, if not more so, proud of what Apple chose not to do. Focus was key in the midst of great ideas. Perhaps saying “no” was more accommodating than saying “yes.”

Odds are, it’s planning season for your credit union. With so many ideas for growth, how might your credit union gain more strategic clarity? How might your credit union keep its focus on its true drivers of growth and success while eliminating the shiny distractions? Consider using this exercise to add some strategic order to the chaos of shiny objects.

First, draw up your list of potential drivers for revenue and membership growth. List every idea of what your credit union should be doing next. Make the list as long as it needs to be; get it out of your system.

Second, score every idea in each of three categories: contribution to revenue, strategic fit, and ease of execution. You can add more categories to concentrate on building even further credit-union wide success. Below is an edited example from a mid-sized credit union. Its original list contained about 30 very shiny ideas.

 

 

Revenue Potential

Strategic
Fit

Ease of
Execution

 

1=LOW
5=HIGH

1=NOT GOOD
5=GOOD

1=HARD
5=EASY

Targeted M & A

4

2

2

Support Services to CUs

2

3

3

Additional Branches

5

5

5

Financial Advisory

4

4

5

Business Lending

3

3

2

 

Third, determine which ideas carry a high aggregate score (add the rows) and have little variations among the three scores. This credit union discovered that additional branches were key to growth, fit with an expanded community, and utilized a business model that could be replicated. It also discovered that expanding its financial advisory capacity would fit its model and plans for growth. Of most interest, it learned that while a merger may add to the top line, a successful and sustainable execution was more difficult than perceived. For this credit union, growth would come via deeper relationships, new branches, and financial services beyond deposits and loans.

In your upcoming executive and board planning sessions, incorporate all the potential ideas (even the distractions disguised in ideas’ clothing) that might work at your credit union. Then, focus on eliminating the diversions by determining the ideas that generate significant revenue and have a tight strategic fit and are easy to execute. Your 100 ideas will whittle down to a list of 10, eventually becoming a few areas of focus. Your single-mindedness on the simplicity of a few prevailing ideas will help your credit union be exceptional in the execution of your strategic intents, assisting you in remaining focused in the midst of many great ideas.

© 2015 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

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, please contact jeff@jeffrendel.com or call 951-340-3770, or visit www.jeffrendel.com.