It pays to pause
When a credit union leader faces a challenge, an opportunity or even a threat, he or she should pause. According to Josh Linkner, “If you pause, you have the chance to try something creative rather than the obvious choice.”
Linkner, an author and entrepreneur, and the chairman and co-founder of both Fuel Leadership and the Institute for Applied Creativity, told the crowd CUs face what he termed “tie-breaker situations” all the time, meaning they can win or lose a loan, win or lose a potential member.
“A little creativity can make all the difference in the world,” he said. “Creativity is the natural state of humans, but schools, jobs and well-intentioned parents get in the way.”
Rand McNally was the No. 1 map company 20 years ago and 120 years ago. Today, Google is the No. 1 map company. According to Linkner, what happened to Rand McNally is what happened to many companies: it got intoxicated by success.
“We cannot rely on the models of the past and expect continuing success,” he insisted. “There is so much competition, we have to tap into the ultimate technology – human creativity. It cannot be outsourced.”
Linkner urged all attendees to, “Be an innovator,” and he offered the five “obsessions” of innovators:
The more curious you are, the more creative you become, he said. “We make daily decisions based on what did or did not work in the past. That is great in a static environment, but things change all the time.” Linkner said people should regularly ask three questions: Why? What if? Why not?
2) Defy tradition.
There are many traditions that should be held in great respect, Linkner said, including those relating to family, religion and even sports, but he said “saluting the flag of the past” can be dangerous.
“Defying tradition leads to innovation, and challenging the rules can lead to better outcomes,” he said. “Some rules might be good – don’t change just for the sake of changing. But if you are doing the same thing over and over again and getting declining results, do a judo flip – make things upside down.”
3) Crave what is next.
Credit union leaders should have a “future orientation,” he said, adding they should lean in to change while letting go of the past.
“Too often, we overestimate the risk of trying something new while underestimating the risk of doing the same thing,” he said, offering the examples of comedian Louis CK, who throws away his material every year to force himself to write new jokes, and Idea Bank in Poland, which came up with a rolling ATM built into a car that is summoned in the same manner as Uber.
4) Get scrappy.
According to Linkner, anyone can succeed in business if they have unlimited resources of time and money. “Challenge yourself to get by using a creative solution with whatever resources you have on hand.”
5) Adapt fast.
The “myth” of innovating is there is a lightning flash of inspiration followed by installation. In reality, Linkner pointed out, most new ideas do not pan out. “There needs to be constant micro-innovation,” he said.
“Challenge yourself to seek one creative disruption in the next seven days,” he told attendees. “One idea becomes six ideas becomes 11 ideas. You create momentum that becomes unstoppable.”