Three Ideas in Three Minutes

Tailor-made innovations CUs can try quickly, cheaply… now.

April 9, 2012

The business icon Sir Richard Branson wrote a book entitled, “Screw it, Let’s Do It.”

Through a series of entertaining anecdotes Branson describes his personal and professional successes and failures. In short, his accomplishments are defined by a manic desire to try things without a tremendous amount of analysis.

Though the Filene Research Institute is not advocating credit unions to do the same, we think they could benefit from a more proactive and welcoming approach to new ideas.

Following are three ideas tailor-made for you by the Filene Research Institute’s i3 group to try quickly, cheaply… now:

1. Money Maximizer

Despite credit unions’ best efforts, most consumers don’t like to think about their finances…except when they do. These wrinkles in time tend to be infrequent, needs-based, and idiosyncratic.

Money MaximizerCredit unions can’t precisely predict what consumers want all the time, but they can deliver on what consumers say they consistently look for from a financial firm: price, service, and convenience.

Money Maximizer is a simple, online tool to quantify the dollar value of credit union members in seconds. Currently in development by Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Colo., any credit union could apply this idea today with a little bit of marketing, technology, and operations juice.

2. CU@Soup

One upside of the down economy has been the proliferation of small and micro business startups. These new firms lack two things: capital and business expertise.

CU@Soup is a credit union-sponsored entrepreneurial incubator aimed at solving these problems. This subscription-based service connects entrepreneurs, creating a supportive network to share expertise and propel their businesses forward.

They may draw on credit union resources, such as office space and equipment, as well as advice in the areas of accounting, investments, technology, marketing, and more. The subscription fees provide membership in the incubator and grant access to technical resources while also building a pool of funds for entrepreneurial loans.

Participation in CU@Soup culminates in an event where grant dollars are awarded to one member from within the incubator based on a business pitch competition.

3. Dig into Archives

In addition to the most recent i3 ideas, more than 150 previous ideas exist for credit unions to consider, study, and implement.

Many of these ideas have been widely adopted by credit unions—Debt in Focus, Savings Revolution, and Save to Win—while others are waiting for a credit union to implement today. Check our archives for ideas that are ready for the taking.

The Filene Research Institute presents dozens of ideas to credit unions every year, and the reaction from our stakeholders is usually something like “yeah but.”

Yeah, we like your idea, but the <regulator, board, staff, members> will never go for it.

We advocate for a “yeah and” philosophy: Yeah we like your idea and while the regulator may not like this idea initially we can try it on a small scale without much damage.

In other words, “screw it let’s do it” on a small scale now!

GEORGE A. HOFHEIMER is chief research + innovation officer for the Filene Research Institute.

Filene Seeks New i3 Participants

Filene is recruiting the next round of i3ers. The perfect candidate for the Filene  Research Institute’s i3 programs is someone who can identify consumer and organizational problems, design innovative solutions to those problems, and convince others to give those solutions a chance.

Just as important, this person must be a future leader in the credit union movement.

Click here to complete a Filene i3 nomination form.