Lost in Plain Sight

Don't look in the same old places for new solutions

March 12, 2012


Wallpaper removal is a job that necessitates The Scraper.

I incorporated a ladder, The Scraper, and the most cheerful disposition I could muster.  Piles of decorative refuse fell to the floor.  What a mess.

At day’s end, I filled garbage bags with old wallpaper and put my tools away.  But I could not find The Scraper.  Annoyance escalated as I searched under furniture, through trash, and retraced my steps. No luck.

The next day I changed my search strategy.  I began to look up rather than down, and I found The Scraper on the top step of the ladder.  It wasn’t where I expected to find it, but present nonetheless. It was lost in plain sight.

Do you find yourself looking in the same old places, treading well-beaten paths as you look for fresh solutions and strategies?   Why not “climb the ladder” and get a fresh perspective on some of your credit unions persistent problems?  Challenge yourself to find solutions in unexpected places as you review this week’s research.

Monetary Policy

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Kloth is research librarian at CUNA.

The first rung of the research ladder this week is monetary policy as we peruse findings posed by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  In “Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve:  Current Policy and Conditions”  realize “The Federal Reserve defines monetary policy as the actions it undertakes to influence the availability and cost of money and credit.”  The Fed’s role in our economy is examined, especially with regard to the recent financial crisis.

Greater policy detail is available in “The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response,” also by CRS.  Herein are addressed various aspects of depreciating currency, and examined “effects a depreciating dollar could have on the economy, and how alternative policy measures that could be taken by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the 112th Congress might influence the dollar’s path.”

Get another leg up on the monetary policy issue in “Evaluating the Current Stance of Monetary Policy Using a Taylor Rule,” again by CRS.  The Fed incorporates the Taylor rule, which assists in guiding monetary policy decisions “against some objective, albeit simplistic, ideal.”  Such rules “prescribe a federal funds target based on inflation and output gap…and can be adjusted to reflect a variety of policy goals.”

Do you understand monetary policy and the role of the Fed in guiding our economy?  How can increased knowledge of these issues assist your credit union?

Fraught with Fraud

Fraud appears on the radar in “The Rise of Financial Fraud”  by the Center for Retirement Research. This focus on senior fraud reveals “…The incidence of financial fraud is on the rise…experts expect the trend to continue or accelerate as aging baby boomers increasingly become targets.”  Schemes analyzed include insurance, investment, and advance-fee fraud; as well as discussion about what makes seniors particularly vulnerable.

Fraud from the perspective of service providers is available in “Medicare Advantage Organizations’ Identification of Potential Fraud and Abuse” by the Department of Health and Human Services.  A problematic issue, according to the study, is that Medicare Advantage “organizations lack a common understanding of key fraud and abuse program terms and raise questions about whether all MA organizations are implementing programs to detect, correct, and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, as required in their compliance plans…”

It appears that specific demographics are targeted in fraud schemes, and implementation of policy is a vital component to fraud eradication. 

Does your credit union have policies in place to detect and monitor fraudulent activity?  Is any specific demographic of your membership repeatedly targeted?

Back at the Office

Scraping at other research reveals workplace studies to expand your vision of situations affecting your employees.

Have you considered “Work-Focused Psychotherapy Can Help Employees Return to Work Sooner”? Learn that “Employees on sick leave with common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety fully returned to work sooner when therapy deals with work-related problems and how to get back on the job, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.”  This could be a win-win strategy, as this type of therapy has “little or no compromise in people’s psychological well-being over the course of one year.”

“The twenty-first century is emerging as the century of the ‘super-commuter,’ a person who works in the central county of a given metropolitan area, but lives beyond the boundaries of that metropolitan area, commuting long distance by air, rail, car, bus, or a combination of modes,” so proclaims the New York University Wagner School of Public Service in “The Emergence of the ‘Super-Commuter. ’”  Employees spend less time in the office, and more time engaged at work through virtual means.  Bonus:  “Super-commuters are well-positioned to take advantage of higher salaries in one region and lower housing costs in another.”

Housing costs do remain a consumer concern, see “Housing Landscape 2012: Nearly a Quarter of Working Households Spend More Than Half of Income on Housing” by the National Housing Conference.

What implications do these workplace trends have for your credit union’s operations and procedures?  How can your credit union “look up” to find new HR strategies?

Looking at problems from a fresh perspective can help you see innovative solutions. Climb the ladder to gain a fresh perspective and breathe new life into tired old processes.

LORA KLOTH is research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.