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CUNA Technology Council Conference | Creating a Culture of Innovation

By Abby Progin 29 Sep 2015

Abby Progin | Senior Product Evangelist

Creativity and innovation is important to improving sales culture, internal processes, member satisfaction and increasing bottom lines within your financial institution; however, the world is not set up to support the light of innovation needed to be creative. Today I attended a session at the 2015 CUNA OpSS and Technology  Conference, “Creating a Culture of Innovation“, presented by Filene Research Institute, a non-profit and independent organization that explores issues vital to the future of credit unions and consumer finance. Andrew Downin, Innovation Director at Filene with “real-world” financial industry experience from his time SchoolsFirst (an Akcelerant customer!) discussed the roadblocks that prevent innovation within financial institutions and how to solve them.

Akcelerant Talks - CUNA Tech - Day 2

So what is standing in your way? One attendee stated regulations were a roadblock they have seen hinder their ability to be innovative. Downin shared a few additional factors that prevent innovation such as over-confidence (if we have been doing wonderfully why look at changing?), people and personalities (it’s hard to be innovative when folks within the financial institution are critical of change), unnecessary perfectionism (prototyping is necessary and the first try won’t always be the best), and aversion to failure (failure is a critical component to success).

How do you overcome some of the roadblocks your financial institution may experience and support innovation and creativity?

Over-confidence – Be humble and willing to re-evaluate what techniques you are currently using.
People and personalities – Encourage employees to think flexibly and communicate ideas.
Unnecessary perfectionism – Embrace failure and learn through experimenting.
Aversion to failure – Set the proper expectations to be able to take calculated risks.

Some additional suggestions that Downin discussed were to exhibit body language and verbiage that is welcoming and opening, accept and welcome employees’ ideas and diversify your innovation mix. The latter deserves a little more discussion.

What mix is the right approach to promote innovation in your financial institution? According to Downin, if you can think with innovation you can serve your members better which is what credit unions need to do in order to win over the new non-traditional lenders in the game today.

Keep innovating!

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