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BarCampBankSeattle (BCBS) and the need for tattoos

July 23, 2007

Near the end of the Saturday session (someone correct me if I am wrong) we got into a great debate because of Jesse’s two teller conundrum. I mentioned that every GM should have the 7 Co-operative Principles tattooed to their butts. From that point it moved into some laughable circles. But the interesting point was that most did not know about these principles. Maybe they did, or had read them, but they weren’t at the top of my mind and I couldn’t repeat them verbatim. One quick point – on the link above there is a bold comment at the end “We embrace and live by these principles”. Wow, those are tattooing words!

Today I was looking at Denis Wymore’s home page and what is there — a note about her book “Tattoos: the Ultimate Proof of a Successful Brand”. This is now getting to look very different. Successful brands have tattoos but we who consider ourselves credit unionists can’t repeat a single cooperative principle. What does that say about our brand? We talked about creating a manifesto from the weekend’s meeting. Each of these principles could be wordsmithed into an understandable, concise language that would fit what we talked about. So here is one feeble attempt at it.
Open Membership – open to everyone willing to accept the responsibilities of membership. Since when did any of us hear of a “responsibility of membership”? What is it? Maybe we have been thinking to much of “me” and not enough of “we” when decided responsibilities.

– one member, one vote. Interesting. No proxies. Someone once told me there are 4 ways to make a decision

  1. Consensus, the best way but very time consuming and we never have time for something like this right?
  2. Compromise, the politician’s way when you get something, I get something and the guy at the end of the line gets nothing.
  3. Vote, yes our democratic principle that means those that have the biggest teams, armies or mobs get to decide usually with the big group controlling the agenda and deciding who gets #4.
  4. Crucifixion – I will leave it at that.

So which even if we do vote to make decision why does everyone feel like someone got dealt #4?

Democratic member control – members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Now there is a time bomb. Since when did any CEO and the senior VP team listen and act in direct concert with members in “setting their policies and making decisions”. We have listened to regulators, consultants, economists, politicians, bureaucrats, bankers (of course) and everyone who is NOT a member it seems, in setting policies and making decisions. Notice it says their policies. Policies of the individual and autonomous and system minded credit union.

In the next post I will pick up on a few more of these tattooable items.

 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2007 5:16 pm

    ok, I just know I’m about to get run out of town for this, but … for five years I was in a women’s investment club, and chaired it most of the time. We rocked! Made solid returns, and enjoyed the experience. But here’s the thing. It was democratic (majority vote), but there was at least one person, maybe two, who never did really pick up the ball and run with it in terms of ‘getting’ how to evaluate a company. And on occasion, several in the group would be inspired about a company for various reasons, even if it didn’t meet our criteria, and vote to purchase it. Sometimes it played out well, as often as not it didn’t.

    So … is there a place for ‘expertise’? and for ‘expertise’ to win out over democracy? Would we REALLY want credit union members having direct say on complex issues? Would they be informed and qualified to vote? (I include myself in the membership; some decisions are way beyond what I could comfortably handle). OK, say your piece…

  2. tinfoiling permalink*
    July 25, 2007 5:38 pm

    I think any ‘expertise’ needs to have valid questions asked of it answered. There needs to be a balance here and that is what is not taking place. Everything is left to the experts. Remember we are talking about members who also have the title ‘owner’.
    And here I go again. LINEUPS. Does anyone really want them? Ask the members and they say No but where is the expertise is getting rid of the lineups?

  3. July 25, 2007 8:36 pm

    Gene,

    I’ve got to say, as someone who straddles the fence in the arena of the CU “movement”, I was very surprised and a little disappointed that no one at BCBS could spout off the 7 principles. (Which, until that day, I had no clue existed.)

    Now, I do have a feeling you knew most of them, and it was definitely an environment with little room for error, but shouldn’t this be required memorization for all CU people? (I’m sure we can come up with a clever acronym if needed.)

    How can a CU as an organization expect to convey these principles if they don’t even know them?

    I look forward to hearing more discussion about these principles and what they mean for the CU “movement” and the daily life of CU members.

  4. July 25, 2007 8:46 pm

    Also, thinking more about the “responsibility of membership” brought me back to this excerpt from an old SVN article

    [In How to Win Friends and Influence People] Carnegie suggests that if you want to make someone your friend, then you should ask them to do something for you. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the fog is lifted when you think about it: When someone does something for you they are vested in your success. They want to see you succeed because they have a chip in the game.

    Are there ways these thoughts about friendship can be applied to CU membership?

    Just a thought…

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