I am not predicting these new designs will overwhelm all of the structures we currently have, or that they will become the only design for the industry. What I am predicting is that there will be new kinds of organizations that aggregate member opportunity and member activity instead of consolidating the balance sheets and charters of credit unions. Credit union organizational clusters and holding company designs will aggregate member opportunity in a new way, vying to aggregate the work, not the assets of credit unions.
In most cases, these organizations will spring from the standalone credit unions we have today. Credit union professionals who direct organizations that need more work, who have talent to spare, and who have goals for their careers that go beyond the asset size of their own credit union, will be the catalysts for a new core design. Credit unions will use these models to get their piece of the dollars spent by other credit unions on vendor services. These new organizations will capture the operational expense budgets of their peers and keep the money in the system in a new way.
These organizations will lead with new solutions that work across credit union memberships, manage diverse operational requirements, and effectively work on dozens of versions of process designs. They will also challenge the way current resources are sold to standalone credit unions, because credit unions will now have new peer organizations from which to buy solutions. These new organizations may very well become the operations of choice for regulators, board directors, and credit union leaders who need to reignite failing charters.
Today's vendors will have to reconfigure themselves away from hubs. They need to evolve into peer-visible networks where what their customers have in common will organically define new capabilities. The participants in vendor networks will innovate and yield new designs, even beyond the direction or intent of the vendors themselves. Like the Internet, commerce will emerge from the ideas of the businesses riding the network.
It all starts with an evolving mindset about what is a core credit union design. This mindset is a new orientation for business solutions in a networked world. It is retraining business leaders to default to network concepts when challenged with business issues and how to gain competitive advantage. Acquiring and honing these skills will be one of the major initiatives for business thinkers in 2010 and 2011.
One initiative that is already underway is the NACUSO Education & Certification Program. This is a year-long education event designed to develop network business design skills amongst credit union and CUSO leaders. Scheduled to kick off two independent classes each year, these efforts are about building a new community of credit union industry thinkers. CUSOs are often listed among the strongest hopes for our industry's ability to innovate, but innovation doesn't start with an organizational format, it starts with people. It might start with you. Check out the NACUSO program and start sharpening your resume to list proficiency at network business design as one of your skills.
This article started by citing the fact that a new buyer of services was about to burst onto the scene. The buyer will be looking for credit union professionals who can sell their skills to a network. For IT solutions that can create and facilitate a network. For process designers who can automate multiple designs at once. For marketers who can manage the vision of dozens of local brands at the same time. For leaders who can start businesses and take on new challenges. Do you have skills that you are ready to market?
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