Ron has a blog post about the downside of being small. Great post with some definite statements about how small is not the panacea for everyone.
First, small and large are relative terms. They are labels we place upon items in order for us to gain some semblance of order. What is small to some will be large to others and the opposite, what is large for some is small for others. Remember the end of the film Men in Black II?
There is another aspect of an organization’s size that is of a prime concern. How it is managed. You can have any size FI and if it is managed well size, though a consideration, is part and parcel of many other goals and strategies. A badly managed organization doesn’t need size to fail.
Small to me means keeping the organization flat, tight, and productive. It means being able to move on a dime. It means ‘fighting’ with 3rd party suppliers that create expensive products that would force you into a strategy or product that is not even a 50% solution. It means quit ‘whining’ and do what you are supposed to do. Small means have staff meetings where the contribution is from everyone so you formulate objectives that are understood and agreed upon so you don’t need a marketing department to push anything. Small means you don’t have to structure meetings to decide on the colour of the toilet paper in the washrooms. The list could go on and on. It is important that the term small does not get translated in the terms most employ. Small by its nature in today’s society looked upon as an anomaly because so much that we are shown (big) is the antithesis of small. That is why I think ‘small is beautiful’.
Ron and Jeffery are right. You need more coming in that going out. A very simple rule of business. But not all mergers have delivered that ideal and so merging sometimes clouds the issue of what is really necessary – changing the management to at least begin to move forward. Sometimes I have seen mergers to build larger empires of senior management. FIs live and they die, nothing continues forever. Try as you might there may be conditions and reasons that are no longer available or valid to continue.
It would be very easy for the Board to say “we need 10% growth and nothing else matters!” Piece of cake. But when they say “we want at least 5% growth, keep the community happy with at least a 7% dividend, make sure donations are 7% of net income, be sure to continue to contribute to the social capital of the CU and the community, and deliver innovative products that are useful, as well as no line-ups in the branch, etc…well that gets a bit more difficult to manage. Keep the bottom line healthy and you can realize all and more of these goals. That is the tough part. Fine tuning all the aspects of what makes you successful. Growing in all of these aspects makes for a difficult and at times impossible situation. But man is it ever rewarding and satisfying when everyone contributes to making it happen. The biggest enemy of being small? Thinking small.
As we spoke at BarCampBankDallas it became apparent that this new device will offer some solutions to problems we have had in the past. But maybe there is a bigger problem with us.
We have always been thinking of developing applications with the view that someone will be sitting at a laptop or desktop machine. That it is either stationary or mobile for use and that wifi or Ethernet connections may or may not be available. That is the physical environment of the user. But what happens with the iPhone?
Suddenly that environment is passé. Now the device has greater capacities and is in the pocket of the individual. Like a cell phone it will travel everywhere and will have that constant connection. It can be transmitting your geographic location and pushing you updates all the time.
We need to begin to think in more ‘real life’ situations. This may seem crazy but after being married for 36 years I like to know what my wife is doing and where she is. Before I head home from work I like to call her and tell her I am leaving. Sometimes I forget. In the near future this device will be able to tell her where I am. If I am stuck in traffic she should be able to see this. I don’t know how possible this was before but it will soon be a reality.
When thinking about financial services we can now view the possibility of geographic location of the person when they spend their money. If they use a debit card then the place of use can be paired up with the individual’s geographic location. Your alert mechanism for fraudulent use suddenly can take on some new dimensions.
And that seems to be the key, considering these new dimensions and being able to do development to deploy the application on the hardware. Software can become much more robust, much more specific and driven for much more usage. To put a function to use is going to be much easier. To use that function anywhere is going to make a major difference.
Sure there will be the glitzy ideas and software because this is so new and thought of as cool. But creating functional applications given the new parameters, that really could change the way some financial services and products are used and delivered. Fasten your seat belts.
Everyone is on there way home or soon to be headed in that direction. BarCampBankDallas is over and once again one sits back and slowly begins to digest what took place since Saturday morning.
The topic of the iPhone and what it can and will do for the financial service industry was discussed at length. The opportunities for development of products and services with this device surfaced again and again. In essence this device gives you some dimensions (where you are, where others are, push technology, enterprise development, etc.) that either were not available or unanswerable in the past. If Jobs is right in suggesting that the iPhone could reach 60% market share then this device could become as common as the iPod. When hardware and software arrive at this new technology plateau who knows where it will lead.
Regulators and regulation and what that means to this industry was considered in a number of sessions. No one likes this segment and though it is necessary sometimes it is very hard to see some reasonable means of dialogue with this group. It seems a continual challenge to find the resources in order to comply with these demands. Much of what we have and continue to do has not changed much but in the regulators eyes that does not matter.
There was an excellent mix of attendees with no single group becoming the main focus. I really appreciated the responses and input of so many people. Everyone there had a passion for the business and you could see that. The food was great and the venue was very different. There were a number of ‘creatures’ (stuffed animals) in the centre area that became part of few discussions. I had never seen a stuffed giraffe before.
People will ask me ‘Was it as good as Seattle or New England?” I have a hard time comparing each event because they are so different. They are all equal in some fashion but also different just based on the agenda and people. The first BarCampBank was exciting because it was new. Those that follow are exciting because you can understand what will be occurring. You not only measure what you learnt and discussed but also view the unmeasurable, the relationships that you have renewed and those new ones that you have made. To me that might be the most important aspect of BarCampBanking.
These relationships create that network of like minded individuals that for the most part are exploring technology, people and markets. They have the common desire to make something better, to change something. There is little if any of a defeatist attitude. You share stories, dreams and the realities of the business you live in. Larry Hooper was the only non-FI person there and it was great to hear his take on things. I think the story he shared is one reason why we continue to strive to do things better.
Did I come away with any great ideas? Certainly. The most important thing though was to hear that your ideas and your plans were being challenged and validated at the same time. You will only get that kind of response at a BarCampBank.
It was an enjoyable event. Good to see everyone again. Good the have some great food and experience that Texas hospitality.
Doug has presented an excellent post about CUs and innovation. But as I commented there is another side.
First I am not saying that all 3rd level CU organizations or 3rd party suppliers fit this pattern. There are a number of organizations and people within these organizations that get it. But in large part most fit the same pattern — keep it comfortable and maintain the status quo.
That pattern and the underlying mantra of most credit unions that their brand is sacrosanct creates the problem for innovation. Please don’t ask me for the answer on this one as I don’t have it. It is almost like the system governs the outcome and there is no reasonable explanation as to why it continues. Why can’t we work together to a greater degree? Because we have a brand to maintain and maybe some collaborative effort will diminish it. Our competitive edge will erode if it was know our CU competitors were involved. Or when we are at the table trying to collaborate we can’t agree because the brands get in the way. Maybe it would be just too difficult to have to re-build something by having to admit previous failures that were never fixed. Common sense doesn’t event get a chance to exist.
When you have a culture of innovation in your credit union it is risky. There are daily challenges as to why you continue to do things as before. In having this view you constantly challenge not only your CU but everyone else. There is acceptance in that you do have a proper product or service in place but that it could always you a bit of tweaking when you have the time and resources to do it. There is always this impatience and not being completely satsified. There is always the frustration of trying to arrive at the right solutions for your members. There is the fear of failure. There is the consequence of having spent so much time on something to see it not working as you thought. But all of this leads to the healthy.
You don’t do anything for the recognition but you do it to serve the members better and to make the staff’s daily routine easier and less mundane. You do it from an open source attitude. If another CU can use what you have and make it better isn’t that something better for all of us? You learn from the mistakes because you are willing to take the risk to make mistakes. You always move forward from a position of the positive. The health of your CU is certainly measured by it’s financial performance. There are also some subjective measures such as what have you produced for the members that they can use and value? Cloning a free checking or youth account doesn’t count. Challenging the status quo both inside and outside the CU is the starting point. Asking a simple 3 letter question is maybe the best way to start. “Why?”
The first day is over and the news is out. New iPhone, .Mac changing to .Me and Snow Leopard Server. Again Apple pushes product and updates its technology to higher levels but this time there is something different.
Apple seems to be directing its eyes to the business sector. Sure the iPhone was launched at consumers but the tools and processes shown are a fair indication that Apple is looking at expanding into the non-consumer area. With what was stated today why wouldn’t any business who has some development budget and has been working on the Mac platform not get excited? There are some great possibilities of using these tools to create some unique and interesting products and arrive at answering some old questions.
The key understanding is that the iPhone is a computer in your pocket. So what would you think 5 or 10 years ago about having that much IT power sitting in your glove compartment? With the wireless availability becoming common place there is now an immediate means to communicate and transmit data. Viewing this from a historic timeline we used to wait until the punch cards were run for the printed work, then it became the waiting for the system to come up before we could use the terminal, our desktop computers were the biggest step in having data and applications available on a desk, then the laptops arrived and we could carry them anywhere and now that same power sits in your pocket and is usable anytime.
Any information or data that you can push or pull can be viewed and worked on. Any place. What will that mean to businesses and to us an individuals remains to be seen. One of the programs mentioned today will give you the geographic location, via GPS, of anyone with an iPhone. You will get a choice if you want that information about you available but if you do then you might not have to answer the cell phone from your spouse asking you were you are. A small point but it is significant. You no longer have to tell people where you are, they will have the means to know where you are.
The questions will be asked will it save time, the precious and finite commodity we all treasure. Maybe, maybe not. But it will change the way we view events, processes and what we have been used to in so many unseen ways. Again technology has an offering that we can either use or it can ‘use’ us. We can either be bombarded by vast amounts of useless information or we can filter and broaden our knowledge with needful and proper information. It all ends in one simple but powerful characteristic, individually we choose for ourselves with our own free will what we will do with this technology.
I saw where Apple updated their OSX to 10.5.3. Usually I would wait and let others suffer the challenges but there have been some minor irritations for me with loading a series of tabs in Safari. For the past month if there were 20 or so loading the last 10 would fail to load. It wasn’t working properly at work. Then at home it would be ok with everything loading. We checked everything and nothing. With this update everything works fine. The pages load quickly and all the tabs loading.
This morning I had a great discussion with Morriss Partee of Everything CU. We discussed the upcoming BarCampBankDallas and BarCampBankBC which we will both be attending. The great thing is that we can continue these discussions shortly, face to face. He is one interesting person who has a great deal of passion for credit unions.
Was able to snap up “The Mind of the Market” by Michael Shermer. The inside cover states that the author uncovers the hidden psychology and biology that shape the way we think about money. That sounded interesting. Further down the page it said “Drawing on the new field of neuroeconomics…investigates what brain scans reveal about decision-making processes such as bargaining, snap purchases and establishing trust in business”. This looks interesting. I just hope the writer doesn’t wander off into the Land Contrived Assumptions.
And tomorrow is Friday!
This has been the 4th year I have attended this conference and there is a difference on how I feel about this one as compared to the others. This time a number of the faces were familiar so in some ways you took the time to “catch up” with what has been happening in so many of these peoples lives. The names are too numerous to mention but you always recognize the faces. Flickr has over 3,000 photographs of the event! If you aren’t in that photostream it is because you weren’t there.
The conference is always remembered by the people who attend it. They really make what it has become. Everyone is pretty comfortable discussing all aspects of the digital world we live in. The conversations can become pretty intense. Maybe that’s why when its over everyone’s brain is very tired. It is that intenseness and passion for the subject that is so rewarding. You give as much as you can and you end up getting back more.
I keep my notes of the conference in my Moleskine. This year I have 19 pages of words, ideas, URLs, and miscellany. Those notes will be key in today’s reflection of what is happening on the Internet. There will be a few more blogs subscribed to from the people you have met, a few that you will read more often and probably a few more readers of your own blog. The social fabric continues to get woven.
We all tend to want to measure things in terms of success (it was a successful event). I have never thought NV as a success. It is more a happening, an idea exchange, a period of incubation of thoughts and words. By attending you are propelled into a different realm that everyone who participates understands by experiencing it. It isn’t something you can necessarily write about or listen to. You have to experience what took place. And experiences are made with people. We are social animals. We like to be with others to share, understand and have a venue to express what we think and believe. And that is what Northern Voice does.
Our national anthem has a phrase “the truth north strong and free”. I sense that in a fashion at NV. The strength is from who we are, the free is our ability to express it. Thanks to everyone who was there.
Yesterday I went through the drive through at the local Starbucks. Pretty simple order, medium sized coffee (what do they call it grande?) with cream and sugar. So the speaker comes on and this over friendly voice takes my order, asks all the same questions and it seems that life is really good from her voice tone. “That will be $1.97”.
Moving along the line up I get up to the wicket. Of course the change tray in the truck has pennies galore so I add 2 cents to the toonie to get my nickel back. The same girl is cheerfully talking stating this and that and I hear the final ‘Thank you’ and ‘Here is your coffee. I’m fine with the chatter, somewhat overdone, but friendly.
I pull forward, stop and begin to pour the paper cup of coffee into my thermos mug. Black coffee, no cream, no sugar. Aaarrrgghhh!
Now the moral of the story — it doesn’t really matter how friendly you are to the customer or if you are Chatty Kathy extraordinaire, if you screw up the order you really haven’t done your job. Pseudo-relationship building comes at a cost.
Jon Derum has an interesting post on his blog about giving people the ability to post comments on ‘blog bars’ (computer terminals at places of business). We really haven’t seen much of an evolution of this idea. We have a Mac setup at the end of the wickets where anyone can sit down to use it to have Internet access. When people know about it they sometimes use it. Some use it on a regular basis, others don’t bother. It does seem to be an issue of time though. People come in to do their ‘banking’ and are prone to move on once the task is completed. They don’t necessarily come to have access to the Internet or to the point made, spend the time to post a comment.
What is very interesting is to see how this ‘service’ will evolve. Will the ubiquitous iPhone/iTouch change when and how we will comment? Will free community wi-fi sites change usage? What happens when ATM’s become web based? Something is going to change, that is for certain.
It seems we are brushing against new realms, new ideas and the fallout, new ways to do things. And yet we use old words and concepts to try to make some meaning for ourselves in these new realms. Those involved in blogging and twittering are sometimes at a loss explaining this new realm because how do you explain something so new that never stops changing.
I recently used the word ‘geekoid’ to explain how a program automatically setup a recorded TV show’s mpeg for streaming with a new http address. ‘Geek’ because it is using technology at the edge in a unique fashion and ‘oid’ because it sounds cool and as a suffix it means to form an adjective/noun with the sense of having the form or appearance of something related but not identical. It suggests that it is a cool use of technology but using TV technology that isn’t the same as we are used to. The program is Elgato’s EyeTV and its wi-fi access preference.
The word micro-blogging has appeared a few time recently to describe what twitter does. Users of twitter had just been calling it twittering, everybody who used this means to communicate easily understanding what it means. Micro-blogging seems to limit what it means.
One of the more interesting concepts is what credit unions do which is offering banking services. Who would understand them as offering credit unioning services? Our quest to make meaning of the new and redefining the old goes on. What seems to be taking shape with twittering is the quick sharing of concepts and ideas, off the cuff remarks that stick and begin to be used again and again until they find some small fashion of usage.
We as English users have a rich heritage of words to use, in fact probably more than most languages. But with 26 letters the capacity of understanding exactly what we say seems limited at times. I would suspect the challenge for bloggers/twitterers is to mold and message our communication not for the coolest of words but for the most understandable language. We shouldn’t be afraid to create something new or reuse words. We should not be persons of indolence.
Most of the time advertising is irksome. I mean it just gets into your face, into your head, into your space just when you want nothing to be there. Could some company ever try to sell you something exactly when you need/want it?
Then there are some companies that when you see their name you look further and want to see what they are saying. Three come to mind – Volkswagen, Apple and Audi. Volkswagen because they had one of the best print ads ever (remember all that white space, a logo and the bug?). Apple because well I’ve had an Apple computer since 1979 and they are just neat and work the way you want (even when it was a CLI). Then there is Audi (What is with German cars anyway?). This morning the Globe and Mail had an insert, a large fold out in black, very little print and their new sports model. All I can remember is 425 horsepower 8 cylinder and a picture of the car. That was more than enough.
Simplicity seems to be the key. A focused message. Nothing busy. It works for me. And that is why I don’t have TV, just can’t stand the commercials. They are like a ball bearing rolling around in my brain.
I was thinking about this at the recent Symposium in Indianapolis so on the way home stopped at an electronics store and bought the easiest to use Sony camcorder I could find. I want to start talking to the staff about getting video clips especially for the upcoming CU Day October 18th. We have a day long event with a BBQ inviting the membership and community to come out and help us celebrate. I think it would be great to post those video clips to YouTube with appropriate tags to be viewed by everyone. I would love to get Fred to talk about the first loan our credit union gave out (he got it to buy a cow) . Think about it if we could get the word out and those with the gumption step up to the plate we could have a number of clips from all over the world of events and messages about that day, about us, about the members, etc. etc. Doesn’t take much effort, doesn’t need to be controlled by those that think in those terms, and would be great to see.
So when is it International Bankers Day anyway?
Ron Shelvin has posted something interesting. I would restate it in terms of “Innovation is a credit union’s secret weapon”. Just the nature of innovation makes it positive, dynamic and well — who wants to be called uninovated?
To innovate means to change, to make changes in something already established, to bring or introduce novelties, to alter or renew. It would appear that the major attribute needed is to be flexible. Now how many FIs could be called flexible? We are painted and stuccoed as rigid, certainly not flexible. This is an industry that has regulators, auditors, SWOT consultants, and inflexibility as part of it’s character. Flexibility and innovation can be viewed as risky by this group. But now is the time we can’t afford to be anything else but flexible and innovative. So here are 4 simple innovative ideas.
- open the door 5 minutes before the posted time.
- make sure a person answers the telephone, not an answering machine.
- make sure the phone is answered by the 3rd ring. That means everyone answers the phone including senior people (who have also been trained on how to transfer a telephone call to another local).
- phone and attempt to contact a member before you return any cheque.
Not exactly high points of technology. Just small things that have been changed from actions of the past. The key is that we as CUs have the ability to change, to do these things differently, to innovate. We don’t have the monolithic structure that prohibits us from doing this. So somebody please tell me — what is stopping us? Are we afraid to be different?
Various businesses have some fairly simple but easy to remember mottos. The one that comes to mind the easiest is Avis – we’re no. 2 (it was Avis, wasn’t it?) or Wendy’s – where the beef? They sum up a core value or core principle but blanket it around the marketing message they want to establish.
Social networking is beginning to be realized as a comprehensive social phenomena. One important aspect that is being experienced is when the social networks meet face to face. Attending an event is like meeting an old pen pal. Key to this is that there is a human interaction that goes beyond the digital characters we view everyday.
Now credit unions have a very enviable position. We always have had members not customers. Members belong to something. Customers consume. We have that experience by maintaining a service culture over a sales culture (though some may differ here). As we move into developing and being part of social networking and as people begin to experience and see what it is, it can only augment who and what we are.
The credit union I work for has a motto – “Where neighbours bank”. And our agency of choice (Tim’s Bunch) presented a marketing byline ‘ “Keeping it fresh”. That puts two 3 word phrases into our daily actions. Easy to remember but sometimes difficult to to consider as a continuing action. What they do is define the culture we work in a little clearer. That is more important than a marketing motto.
Wesabe has an unbelievable product available to anyone who has the facility get get at their transaction data. They have delivered what some of us have thought about for awhile now, financial data and tagging. And they have brought how to use tagging to the easiest method imaginable. Then you have their graphing function, the ability to ‘vote’ on how you think the supplier is, Firefox uploader, browser snapshots, the list goes on. Did I mentioned the social networking aspect of giving financial tips?
So the question is, as a credit union, do you build something like this, which will take time and money and probably be a poor imitation. Or do you say to your members “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here is what we can do to get you going on a truly innovative and valuable service!” But wait, some will say, and so begins the “if we don’t build it others will and we will loose out” discussion starts or “we must build it or it will dilute our brand” discussion continues.
What really should happen is that the member’s data, their financial transactions, should be viewed as their’s, not the banks or credit union’s. They spent the money, and paid for the service, they have every right to do with it as they see fit. And if Wesabe’s service is what they want then we should respond by doing what we can to make it easy for them to do it. And we should work with Wesabe to see how collectively we can serve our members better.
Will this model work? Yes I think it will because a good idea is a good idea is a good idea and you can’t keep something like this off people’s radar screen. Is it a revenue generator? No but does everything we do have to be. It builds a relationship. It assists people in getting a handle on how they spend money. It helps them to save money. It does everything that we have been trying to do, promote common sense and money usage.
As I have said before, banks and credit unions have become something like huge castles with moats around them and the drawbridge up. Then the Wesabians come marching up asking for what is theirs to do what they wish to do with it. We can lower that drawbridge and stop this financial feudilsm that is wasting time and resources for everyone. We need to listen that some have chosen a new financial polity.
One of the more frequent comments we hear from people who come to Mt. Lehman Credit Union is that “it really feels different here”. So you ask them how they came to that conclusion. They mention that while they were waiting they took a seat and noticed what was happening in the branch as the staff were working and the members were conducting business. They noticed how people were being served, how the conversations at the counter were taking place, how there was so much natural sunlight, and how it just felt good and friendly. This is the stuff credit unions are made of. Now how would you measure this? Again the question of how do you measure the quality of a business.
It got me thinking. How many businesses have chairs that you can park your butt down and just notice what is happening? Sure FI’s have seatting because there are always appointments. Our seats are also used if people want to sit while waiting for a teller. There is a device that alerts staff after anyone sits in the chair for longer than 47 seconds (just kidding). For some businesses it would be difficult to do this. There should be a law that any women’s shop have seatting available for husbands who will be there for awhile. But really if you as an individual were to measure if you wanted to do business with anyone, why not just be a silent sitter for 10 minutes and see what is going on. See if there truly is a unique experience there. How you view the experience is the active survey.
Next week the BarCampBankSeattle is happening. Jesse Robins has put this together and there are going to be some very interesting discussions given the attendee list. It is the first BarCampBank event to be held in the United States. O’Reilly Radar, Trabian, Wesabe, Currency and the list goes on. There will be a good mix of operators and pundits, all associated with financial institutions.
One of the questions that keeps me awake at times is how will banking be able to augment their positions and strategies with the use of Web 2.0 energies and the Social Media wave? Banking has been rigid in so much of what it has done in the past. There is always the cover of privacy and secrecy when discussing financial matters with people. Will FIs create and be able to use these new key imperatives? Wesabe is the closest service that fulfills these elements. There is always the view of how the product will be balanced (social vs privacy/security) and how will the member/customer take to it.
Seattle may be the start of some new and innovative ways of how to bank. And that is long overdue.
It started at 8:00 am and went to a little before 5:00 pm. It was a long day but it only seemed like a few hours. If you have never heard or seen Mitch Joel do yourself a favour and don’t miss him. This person has a passion with a capital ‘P’. He explains, teaches, provokes and doesn’t always agree with the audience but that passion shows every single minute. He is punctual and that again is with a capital ‘P’.
Of course the overhead wasn’t working at the beginning but we all received a bound handout of the 281 page presentation. These were not your typical PowerPoint bullet point ‘Captains of Industry’ presentation pages. And so we started without the tech apparatus and you didn’t feel you were missing anything. This presentation had a lot of punch with liberal use of the net and videos. He punctuated the necessary emphasis with choice language. If there was an easy way to make a point Mitch found it. When you came away you knew you had something to chew on for a long time. You can see the course outline at IAB Canada here.
What made this presentation different than the plethora of tech courses always offered? You always felt he was talking directly to you. Even if what he was presenting was already known, he made it feel ‘new’. We could have spent another day just in discussion about all that was presented. So when does the level two course on Social Media Marketing take place? We will all be back. And like you said Mitch, this is just the beginning.
There is an excellent post at the blog modern marketing today. I agree that the word ‘satisfied’ is not a very good description when you are talking about “experience” being your differentiator.
I thought about some surveys so here is a list of 5 choices on a survey and what a person really means when asked:
How has the service been when dealing with the credit union?
- Great – which usually means – I don’t want to tell you the truth or offend you.
- Normal – which usually means – Why are you asking me this? Do I get to win something if I say it’s better?
- OK – which usually means – I put up with you guys but boy if I found a better place I am out of here.
- Not very good – which usually means – This place sucks! I don’t know why I am still here, probably because my mom opened an account here when I was 3.
- Bad – which usually means – I am a disgruntled ex-employee and want to make you guys pay or I am getting paid for some competitive intelligence from the guy down the street.
The Filene Report Denise mentions is excellent and is a great starting point in measuring the Net Promoter Score which is the benchmark we all should be paying attention to. At the end of the report it talks about the next steps for improving member experience. You can spend a lot of time measuring, you can view and chart the results but what are you going to do to improve? One suggestion is that any effective strategic plan will require “Leadership practices that instill customer focus, passion, and values.” Voila! A key ingredient. Leadership.
So in large part bad service can easily mean bad leadership. Not paying attention to something that is hard to measure in any realm. But instilling customer focus and passion and values? That doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership needs to create the ability of the people working in the organization to what I call “make meaning” in their workplace. The environment must be right. Values statements are a long and arduous process. Values are discussed, debated, argued. Values must in some way be part of the individuals own personal make up. (You’ve arrived when you can say to everyone that when they make any decision that is true to these values they have always made the right decision). And when you do arrive at a common, published values statement made up from all individuals, there is a commonality that as a consequence begins the passion. When someone can make some meaning in their job they are quick to become passionate. Now, how do you measure passion?
Trey Reeme wrote me after posting a comment on Open Source CU. It got me to thinking about what a blog is and what it does especially as it applies to people and businesses. Someone once told me that small credit unions are a conscience for larger credit unions. We have this symbiotic relationship. As organizations grow larger it is apparent that their social conscience diminishes, not out of choice but because their size creates difficulties if not impossibilities on trying to maintain a focused and understood social conscience. That coupled with the new realization that marketing/PR is not appreciated when it is shoved in your face without any regard to who you are or what you think. It’s like most advertising in in ‘black and white’, absolute, with the agenda to BUY. We have changed. Blogs and the internet have begun a very different dialogue between the buyer and the seller -there should be an E-bay rating for all companies.
This difference produces marketing/PR that is in colour with every hue available. You have to now prove what you state and you don’t get a second chance. You could call it coloured no chance marketing. Because if you are wrong, or if an employee takes a stance that is at odds with what you are trying to idealize and that party that you offended understands blogging then watch out. From their small network someone has started pulling the thread and everything your business has done begins to unravel.
Does it mean much? Absolutely. It is the lethal injection to the word of mouth buzz that is critical. It is permanent. What is posted on the internet is like something written on stone tablets. Pretty tough to erase and there for the world to see for a long time.