In a recent CreditUnions.com article, Callahan managing partner Jon Jeffreys advised credit unions to “follow the member” to provide real purpose.
I’m paraphrasing from Jeffreys here, but to do that, credit unions can focus on “Jobs To Be Done,” a theory that helps organizations discover ways to “make innovation more predictable and successful.”
But that, Jeffreys says, begs the question: "What have you enabled your members to achieve?”
This is a powerful question of purpose — What have we enabled our members to achieve?
Innovation is less about producing something new and more about enabling something new and important for members. It’s also a valuable lesson for credit unions. The solution lies not in the tools you’re using, but what you’re looking for and how you piece your observations together. Asking better questions can help uncover and define the member’s “jobs” and hone in on the institution’s true purpose.
I just completed the IDEO U “Storytelling for Influence” course, which does a wonderful job illustrating the concept that stories are how we connect to one another and motivate people to act. We’re humans talking to humans about human things. But most people forget about the human element and start talking in bullet points and PowerPoints about all the things they do. The stories are what keep us together. They’re how we build relationships to bring the unimaginable to life.
They’re how credit unions can build relationships.
Every single one of us has a story inside of us. Our credit unions are filled with humans who have stories. Our credit unions have stories. Stories are everywhere — yet most of us never share them. Maybe this is because we aren’t framing our questions to build out impactful stories.
Maybe we need to ask ourselves what have we enabled our members to achieve?
By framing the above question, does it provide your credit union with a whole new perspective? One that can be valuable down the line? Is this better than the general inquiry of what do members want in a financial institution?
Your members can’t always articulate what they want. And even when they do, their actions may tell a different story. But they can tell you about their struggles, aspirations, dreams, and goals. What are they really trying to accomplish and why isn’t what they’re doing now working? What’s behind their desire for something new?
Credit unions can think about these questions through storyboards and use them to capture the purpose behind their member’s stories. Storyboards play a similar role that blueprints play in building a home. Each component of a storyboard is made up of a concept or idea that is typically verbalized in several paragraphs. And all told, they help you reveal whether a concept will work or not.
For example, before Airbnb’s founders launched their site they focused their efforts on storyboarding 40 or so different emotional moments that occurred for Airbnb hosts and guests — essentially identifying the jobs people are hiring Airbnb to do.
And here’s an example from the credit movement itself: A member of Point West Credit Union ($103.9M, Portland, OR) who grew a $500 loan to her tamale business into her own house and two cars. Credit union stories like that are readily available. Tell them. They show the credit union difference and they show your credit union can provide the same head start for more individuals.
Talking to members as if you’re capturing their struggle to storyboard it later is a valuable practice. Members don’t simply buy products or services, they “hire” them to do a job. That job is not just about function but about creating the right set of experiences for members. Those experiences have social and emotional components that may be even more powerful than the functional ones: A car is not just a $5,000 loan; it has personal value to the member beyond that monthly statement.
When credit unions listen to and build up their member’s stories, they allow others to understand what membership means at your credit union. That membership is worth so much more than a transaction — it’s truly member-driven in purpose and mission.