Lisa Bodell

‘Kill a stupid rule’

To improve your odds of success, eliminate a stupid rule at your credit union, futurist Lisa Bodell advises.

January 22, 2018

To improve your odds of success in the future, find a stupid rule at your credit union and kill it, advises author and futurist Lisa Bodell. In other words, seek out what doesn’t work, eliminate it, and focus on innovation.

Too many organizations approach innovation by “adding more,” she says. 

“We need to get rid of the things that aren’t working to create more space for change to happen. People’s plates are full—but not necessarily with stuff that’s of value. So we need leaders to not just give people permission to be more innovative, but permission to get rid of work so they can create the space for this innovative future to happen.”

A common response to Bodell’s call to kill a stupid rule is, “we’re regulated and we can’t kill rules.” But she’s referring to the “everyday assumptions” people follow simply by habit that waste time, such as, why do we need paper reports? Why are there three levels of decision-making for this action?

Eliminating unnecessary barriers will enable credit unions to be faster—another requirement for future success. 

“Speed will be more important than size,” Bodell says.

Size used to be a competitive advantage because it meant more members, a larger service area, and more products and service offerings. 

“This provided barriers to competition,” she says.

But now, even small players have access to the same technology and capital as their more-established rivals. Operating at a faster speed will allow credit unions to “challenge their assumptions around how they have to work and what their members want, and be open to shaking up the status quo.”

‘Speed will be more important
than size.’

Other ways to ensure your future success:

►Practice “proactive obsolescence.” Identify the internal weaknesses or competitive threats that could put you out of business. 

“It’s about getting comfortable with those weaknesses and fixing them,” she says, “as well as challenging the way things have to work so you can be more innovative and move faster.”

►Develop “soft” skills. While technology and automation are important, members will still want the human touch. This will require relationship-building and creative problem-solving.

“Credit unions make people feel worthy regardless of their worth,” Bodell says. “That’s why people go to you versus a bank. Build those relationships. You already have that head start on everyone else.”

Future Forum
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