Author and futurist Lisa Bodell spoke at CUNA GAC Monday.

Bodell: Kill the twin evils of complexity and complacency

Create time for innovation and change by eliminating unnecessary practices.

February 22, 2016

Looking for a way to turn innovation and change from mere buzzwords to fundamental operating principles at your credit union?

Instead of adding these responsibilities to your existing list of duties, create time for brainstorming business practices by scaling back the unnecessary complexity that infiltrates many organizations, author and futurist Lisa Bodell told CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) attendees.

“I have this vision, this fundamental belief, that people get up in the morning wanting to do very important work. But we are drowning people with meetings and emails, and sometimes they become an excuse to not to do anything at all,” said Bodell, who delivered the keynote address at Monday morning’s General Session.

“Instead of doing more,” she added, “I think sometimes we need to do less, to make room for change and innovation.”

To shake off the twin evils of complexity and complacency, Bodell recommended credit union leaders start asking staff tough questions about how to improve the organization, both immediately and with an eye on responding to disruptive forces in coming years.

Consider questions such as:

  • What will your business do in the next 10 years that it doesn’t do today?
  • What unique ways can you market and sell your products?

Leaders must grant staff the permission and power to request those changes, said Bodell, author of “Kill the Company,” which recommends organizations question assumptions and challenge antiquated rules, written or unwritten.

“Ask employees which rule they'd want to kill, and most often what they come up with aren’t rules—most of them will be annoyances,” Bodell said. “You’ll find a ton of quick wins that’ll help you change your culture right away and simplify.”

Simplifying your operation provides a competitive advantage, Bodell said. In this respect, credit unions’ relative lack of complexity and members-first focus provide a leg up on other financial institutions.

“You make people feel worthy regardless of their worth,” Bodell said.