Innovation Lessons from Filene’s i3 Program

Consider these touchstones to spark innovation at your CU.

February 1, 2015

Since its inception a decade ago, the Filene Research Institute’s i3 program produced essential lessons about innovation.

The Filene Method of Innovation, upon which i3 is based, uses the concept of human-centered design which proposes that successful ideas must be desirable, feasible, and viable.

“We firmly believe that the best innovation for credit unions is grounded in the needs of the people they serve and are working to attract,” says Tinsley Stearns, Filene’s chief impact officer.

To spark innovation at your credit union, consider these touchstones:

• Foster intellectual curiosity. People with an answer-seeking mindset are far more successful than those with an answer-presenting mindset.

• Leverage your strengths and understand your weaknesses. Create synergy by merging each team member’s talents.

• Go slow to go fast. Take your time to gather insights, identify specific problems to solve, and ideate around those problems. “The more specific you can be about these items, the more focused you’ll be when it comes to building a solution,” Stearns says.

• Seek available information. A good, old-fashioned Google search can help you find solutions to problems. Seek out data supporting or disproving your assumptions, insights from consumers, and information about what competitors and other industries are doing.

• Mine the i3 portfolio. Know what came before and learn from earlier attempts. “We all want to build ideas from scratch,” Stearns says, “but we must realize that maximizing our impact on consumers and credit unions may mean taking an old idea and making it better.”

• Realize that “perfect” doesn’t exist. Keep your eyes on implementation. “If you get too hung up on perfecting every aspect of your idea or adding too many features, you’ll never launch your idea,” Stearns says.