Check Egos At The DoorTo Collaborate Successfully

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People helping people starts with our own "enlightened" self interest. Survival of the fittest, caring about the human condition, love of family, competitiveness, good intentions, lone-wolf syndrome, seeking a Lamborghini-we all live the blend.

At the highest level (and I'm not talking about inhaling or beer bongs) we live in a country that was founded on the idea we are rugged individuals intent on minimizing structural intervention. Can individuals collaborate? Smart ones do. As ambitious as we may be as careerists there is nothing about us that needs to be predatory. Calcified ego and fear of change is the problem. Getting from "me" to "we" is hard.

In the seminal Filene Study, "A Road Map for Credit Union Back-Office Collaboration," author Michael Taylor shared the one unanimous agreement of the 150 credit union leaders who took part in the study: "One hundred percent responded that credit unions need to set aside egos in order for collaborations to form." The most important elements of a collaboration partner from the same study:

* Competent

* Creates value

* Trusting

* Complementary skill set

As the CUSO model has proven, a credit union's skill set, or "excess capacity," can be delivered at a fair profit, just as aggregation of functions drives down costs for all. You can dot your collaborative "i" with a basis point or two.

Credit union collaboration with a blast of innovation will drive our careers and revenue in the future. The credit union philosophy, our business acumen, and our people matter. All that, plus a shot or two of courage every day!

I was reminded of that as I sat down with 125 good souls at the first annual Collaboration Conference & Golf Event sponsored by the Southern California Credit Union Alliance (SCCUA) recently. You have to love the honesty of a grassroots meeting that gives equal billing to the golf.

The "i" in collaboration is alive and well in the SoCal sun with leaders such as Jon Hernandez, who started SCCUA, Gary Perez, who has led statewide collaboration as CEO at USC CU for decades, and Lucy Ito, who leads CU Roots, the Collaborative CUSO that was formed by a group of credit unions and the California and Nevada leagues to deliver more than philosophy compliance, internal audit and benefits at a reduced cost.


A Partnership In The Making

As a result of a dialogue that was finalized at the conference, SCCUA is developing a partnership including 11 credit unions and a significant business partner.

The conference drew leaders in collaboration from around the country, and had the innovative energy that is still alive and well in the Golden State. Leo Shapiro, the father of credit unions in California, had it right a few generations ago when he said, "Credit unions are financial institutions with a soul."

Within that light and within our right effort there's opportunity for all in collaboration.

John Parsons is founder of Cooperative Strategies, Encinitas, Calif. For info:

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