news.cuna.org/articles/115463-challenged-to-innovate
Challenged to innovate
Vermont FCU recently held its first Innovation Challenge, a program designed to promote creativity and collaboration.

Challenged to innovate

Vermont Federal Credit Union turns to employees to find solutions to hurdles.

January 31, 2019

When Vermont Federal Credit Union in Burlington, Vt., needs fresh ideas on member challenges, it turns to staff.

The $556 million asset credit union recently held its first Innovation Challenge, a program designed to promote creativity and collaboration throughout the credit union.

The staff’s mission: Develop creative solutions to challenges facing credit union members.

Participants represented several areas of the credit union. They created 11 concepts and presented the top five to the credit union’s leadership team, who revealed the ideas during the annual staff gathering.

Doug Robinson

‘We approach innovation as a powerful means to deliver on our mission.’

Doug Robinson

“The purpose of the Innovation Challenge is to celebrate and harness the wisdom and diversity of our incredible team, and we’re pleased with the level of engagement and the quality of concepts developed in our first year,” says Doug Robinson, director of innovation and strategy. “It’s an opportunity for those not normally involved in strategy to use their experience at the credit union to truly make a difference for our members.”

Participants submitted concepts addressing challenges such as:

  • Improving the account switch process.
  • Reducing wait times at the branch.
  • Addressing aging members’ financial needs.
  • Developing partnerships with local cooperatives.
  • Rewarding saving and budgeting behaviors.

While each solution addresses a unique consumer problem, the solutions all share a common commitment to improving members’ financial well-being.

“At Vermont Federal, we approach innovation as a powerful means to deliver on our mission: To make a decided difference in the lives of our members,” Robinson says.

The credit union plans to pilot and launch the most promising solutions.